Is Your Social Media Strategy Really A Social Media Strategy?

Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But, tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.

—Native American Proverb

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Pull up almost any major corporation’s Facebook page and look at how they respond to negative feedback. Often, it’s ignored. When it’s not, it’s usually a copy-and-paste response that reads like it spent several weeks losing its humanity in the legal department: “Sorry you didn’t have the perfect experience we’re committed to delivering. Please call 1-800…”

In the latter case, not only does the customer have to make the effort to call, but they also have to re-explain the issue. And, they’ll likely get put on hold. This is hardly a commitment to a great customer experience.

Behavior like this should be shocking at this point: experts have warned companies for years to use social media to communicate rather than broadcast. Yet, most still use social media as little more than a glorified broadcast platform.

Whether this usage stems from ignorance or inability, ultimately the issue is that companies are ignoring the true nature of branding: authentic brands are co-authored experiences with customers, employees, and the brand; authentic brands are not broadcast experiences.

And, at least some social media platforms see themselves as tools for cultivating co-authorship: In October 2012, the most interesting thing I heard at AdAge’s Social Engagement/Social TV Conference in Los Angeles was an offhanded comment by Kay Madati—then the Head of Media and Entertainment for Facebook. He said that internally Facebook refers to posts and their threads as stories.

In that context, most of Facebook’s moves over the last five years make sense: How do we allow our users to better tell the stories of their lives?

But, social media isn’t just great for customers to tell their stories; it’s great for brands to tell their stories too. How much different would your brand’s Facebook page be if its only goal was to tell the story of your brand in a way that’s meaningful to your customers’ lives?

If customers are trying to tell their stories, how can you use your brand to help them tell their stories? And, how can their stories help you tell your story better?

Next time you consider your social media, think about the platforms as tools for co-authorship and storytelling.

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