It’s the top of the 9th inning and the Boston Red Sox are being trounced by their rival New York Yankees by a score of 13 – 5. The Red Sox, with a pitching staff beleaguered by the beating it’s taken over the first eight innings, send outfielder Mike Carp out to pitch the final frame – and a local furniture store’s Twitter feed immediately blows up.
Flashback to April 15. @BernieAndPhyls, a mostly mundane feed sharing news about products and promotions from the locally-based furniture retailer, had recently decided to add some personality to its handle with Tweets directly from founder Bernie Rubin. A die-hard Red Sox fan, Rubin started sharing observations about the team’s performance from the company’s Twitter feed, including criticism of Mike Carp.
The Tweet was deleted shortly thereafter, but not before it was seen by popular blog Barstool Sports. After one quick post, the Bernie & Phyl’s Twitter feed was inundated with questions and commentary about Carp – a trend that has continued for the past two weeks. In fact, since the Barstool Sports story was published, replies to the Bernie & Phyl’s Twitter feed about Mike Carp are out-pacing all other replies by a nearly 10-to-1 margin. Certainly not the type of meaningful engagement brands strive for on social media.
The PAN Communications consumer team regularly recommends injecting some personality when crafting a brands voice on social media. However, there are always guidelines to follow to ensure the brand doesn’t stray from its message and face a similar fate to Bernie & Phyl’s. Here are a few recommendations to consider when crafting your brand’s voice on social media:
- Set a Content Strategy and Follow It – Before fingers hit the keyboard, the brand needs to determine what themes it should be posting about and consider what its audience wants to hear. Given the fluidity of social conversations, it’s okay to deviate from the script when necessary; however commentary that can potentially be seen as controversial should be left to personal accounts.
- Understand Your Audience – I would venture a guess that if you follow the Red Sox Twitter handle, you aren’t looking for advice on selecting a new sofa. Similarly, Twitter users who opt into following Bernie & Phyl’s likely aren’t interested in baseball analysis from the brand – even if they are Red Sox fans! Our team recommends always writing social media content with the end user in mind. Sharing content such as, “Mike Carp doesn’t look comfortable at the plate tonight – maybe he needs a new mattress,” is far more effective and on-brand for a furniture store.
- Know that Once Something Goes Up, it’s Permanent – It may sound cliché at this point, but some still need to be reminded: once something goes up on the internet, it is there permanently – even if you take it down. Not trying to play Monday morning quarterback, but the main takeaway is to think before you post. Consider the possible reactions and ramifications of any content that is shared with the world and if the worst case scenario isn’t desirable, your brand probably should not post it.
One thing that I’m looking forward to seeing is if Bernie & Phyl’s competitor and Red Sox sponsor Jordan’s Furniture leverages this situation. Perhaps having Mike Carp appear in one of their next commercials? What advice do you have for Bernie & Phyl’s and other brands as they try to hone their voice and avoid striking out on social media?