The abundance of opportunities to communicate in social media can be the medium’s greatest curse. Abundance means brands don’t consider their actions the way they do elsewhere where a scarcity demands a clear justification for participation. The result? Low-effort, but low-value communications that are a lot like white bread: cheap, easy and not particularly good for you. The fact is that brands can do better. They can eat whole wheat (even if it doesn’t taste as good).
The key to changing a social media diet is creating structure. Structure comes in the form of a clearly defined charter for every social channel. The elements of a charter will vary, but items like channel purpose, tone, content schedule and measurement should be addressed at a minimum.
These charters in turn govern every communication occurring on the channel. If a message or activity doesn’t conform to the charter – then don’t do it. To some observers this is a kill-joy perspective, but let’s face facts here: even a brand’s lighthearted messaging should have a clearly stated internal purpose. Brands are not involved with social media by mistake or just for fun. Companies are in the medium to accomplish something and if they can’t define what that is, then things have gone awry somewhere.
The benefits of social charters emerge quickly. When someone from product marketing wants to promote the latest widget in a social channel it is easy to evaluate whether it is white or whole wheat: does it fit the charter of an existing channel? If not, does it merit creating a new one? Does the messaging simply need to be reworked? Does it belong in traditional media instead? Initiatives are quickly whittled down from nice-to-haves to must-haves.
In the end, a true social business eats right. So ask yourself: was your last post white bread or whole wheat?