This post is part of a series that looks at social media from different perspectives. My second interview was with a social media marketer.
We first start to talk about social media itself. I am curious to hear about her personal opinion on online platforms. She explains to me that she has a love-hate relationship with them. She is concerned about the privacy breaches and bad algorithms, content that she liked once, will repeatedly show up. However, she likes the fact that it is easy to get updates on the people she knows.
If you post it, it has to be perfect
People refuse to participate
My interviewee has worked with companies to improve their social media. For this she required participation from the company. Though this was hard to achieve. People are excited about social media but refuse to participate. They’ll tell her “if you post [something], it has to be perfect” or “people do not want to see my content”. Thus, the people within companies do not believe their content is exciting enough to be shared or that they will not be able to live up to a certain level of perceived perfection that they feel is required. Furthermore, they experience difficulties posting content due to the strict rules the management has laid on them. And on top of that, people experience self-censorship when engaging with social media. Which is fueled by social pressures from other coworkers or their own strive for perfection. A sentiment the social marketer also shares with the people within a company is that there is an anxiety that comes from ‘playing’ around with company’s brands. You don’t want ruin a company’s image.
To post is to exist
But the social media marketer doesn’t just look at social media from her work perspective, but also as a consumer. If she’s looking for a specific company, and they haven’t posted for a month, she’ll start to question if they’re still around. Another social media pet peeve of hers is social media managers who do not know how to use social media. As an example she mentions people who do not put spaces between their hashtags. On some platforms this will result in one long hashtag that won’t function properly. On the other hand, she also wonders about self-proclaimed social media experts who claim to be able to help you expand your clientele. If these experts spend a lot of time on social media explaining their expertise… how will they have time left to actually help their clients? This way they are signaling that they might now have work. She compares it to ‘clean desk policies’. If people have a clean desk at work, are they spending time working or cleaning their desks? A clean desk then signals that they might not be working after all. A messy desk suggests the opposite.
Don’t think about all the things that can go wrong
You need a level of superficiality
Over the years she has learned that with social media you can’t go too ‘deep’, you need a level of superficiality to practice social media marketing. And you definitely shouldn’t “think about all the things that can go wrong”. A problem she faced while working on social media related content is that she would overthink it. You just need to think about your target audience and consider your statistics. People should look at the ratio between website visits and the call to action. If people merely visit your website, but don’t buy your products, then something is clearly wrong. If you are not getting that many visits, but most visitors buy your products, you’re on the right path. She explains to me that people have been making this mistake for decades. The same principle holds for flyers people would receive in the mail. If not done correctly, they would also not lead to more sales. She feels that there is a discrepancy between sales and marketing, which she calls ‘waste’. Both departments will end up blaming each other for the lack of sales. There is no group looking at why this waste is happening.
Who am I communicating with?
Doing business is still personal
She recommends businesses to retain a personal touch in their online communication and on their platforms in general. This could be in the form of pictures of employees or by being able to see names of the people you communicated with. When she interacts with businesses online she asks herself “who am I communicating with?”. Knowing who the person is and if they have talked before would beg understanding. For instance, in customer service, does the person know her case or does she have to explain it again? “Doing business is still personal”. We end the interview on the note that companies cannot survive without an online presence, as it happens facilitate the ability to easily find information about the company. She adds: “when I hear about a company [offline], I will look them up online first”.