Building Trust Behind a Company’s Social Media Account

By: Guest | May 23, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Mat Powers

We never really think about who is behind the social media accounts of our favorite companies. It’s not as if the real Old Spice guy is sending out tweets…

“Collegiate athletes do more than play basketball, they also learn math and kissing techniques that can’t be found in the private sector”

“Can I promise that this new wallpaper will not cause your computer to erupt into flames, helicopters and hotdogs? Nope.”

“A new pad device was just announced. Seems cool, but I doubt it can replace my space helicopter pad as my favorite pad-based belonging.”

…but someone has taken on the personality of the Old Spice famed spokesperson in order to promote their product in an entertaining fashion.

Very rarely do owners and CEOs of companies take on the responsibility of running their own social media accounts. This task is usually taken on by someone in the marketing department or a person whose sole position is dedicated to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and more.

These individuals are the social voice of the company geared to inform fans of their products, services, events, coupons, and other specials. Many are also asked to interact and try and stir up conversation.

The Horror Story

Last February, Pat Fitzgerald, the head football coach at Northwestern University, learned the hard way what happens when someone else expresses opinions for you. “He” tweeted:

“There’s finally a NBA player who plays hard and says the right things off the court.”

He was referring to the Asian-American professional basketball player, Jeremy Lin, who exploded onto the scene a couple months ago.

Fitzgerald took backlash for this as Chicago Bulls fans exclaimed he obviously hadn’t watched Derrick Rose, who plays in his own backyard (Northwestern is also in Chicago).

People went as far as to call him racist for something that was meant to be a compliment to Lin. Biggest problem…Fitzgerald didn’t even write the tweet. The director of football operations, Cody Cejda, was responsible for the remark.

Think Before You Send

This is where the trust comes into play. The person in charge of a company’s social media accounts must be able to use good judgment when it comes to who and what they are talking about.

Fitzgerald may not be as recognizable as Coca-Cola or Pepsi, but he is the brand of the football program and one of the leading faces of Northwestern University.

There a few seemingly common sense filters that should be considered before publishing.

  • Personal beliefs should be left at home or on personal accounts, not when speaking on behalf of the company. This is not to say they cannot post something they find interesting or enjoy.
  • However, always ask the question “Is this in the company’s best interest or would this offend anyone?” before posting.
  • Touchy subjects such as religion and politics should always be off limits when it comes to speaking on the company’s behalf. Those two topics are a lose-lose situation no matter how you look at it.
  • Stop and take a breath first. As Herm Edwards, a former NFL football coach and public speaker, has always said, “Think before you press send.”

What would you add to this list?

Mat Powers is an Internet marketer at Blue Soda Promo, an eCommerce promotional products company based in the Chicagoland area.  

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  • This is one of the reasons why I don’t really like outsourcing. It’s that much harder to build trust, and you certainly can’t tell people who’s doing the tweeting. And that’s even more important when the account is in an individual’s name, as opposed to a business. If your name is on the Twitter account, please do your own tweeting.

    •  @KenMueller Very true.  I think outsourcing is a bad idea when it comes to social media as well.  Its harder to establish the tone of the company and whats going on on a day-to-day basis when you dont do your social media in-house.  It also takes twice as long because you have to relay the message you want

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  • Building trust also involves knowing what’s appropriate for the social media channel you’re engaged in. Too often I’ll see corporate Facebook or Twitter accounts that read like a bunch of mini press releases, which makes the brand look out of touch. More on this:

    •  @chrisglazier I agree.  The reason people ‘like’ or follow you on social media networks is to get a better picture of the company/brand.  A PR statement here or there is good to keep people in the loop but if you do that all the time your social media seems like its run by a robot.  Its better to speak as if you were posting on your own personal account (but keep in mind the best interest of the company! watch your words)

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  • I have been reading a lot of blogs and forums recently. Some are really informative some are entertaining and some are a real crack up. I’ve got to admit it, great job on this blog, I’ll be sure to check back from time to time

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