A few weeks ago, a revelation came to light on the social media, TwitterNG, specifically: The individual behind the witty updates of the official twitter account of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (@EFCCNG) was revealed through an appreciative tweet via the EFCC handle.
Social media managers come and go. However, what made the “unmasking” of Olufemi Olukayode Adeyemi (@FshawkingFisher) different was the way he deployed the rare and unpopular tactic of “social media savagery” via a corporate account, and he did it so well, people loved it!
With a twitter account such as the EFCC’s, one would ordinarily think the conventional, “straight-jacketed” stance in amplifying its corporate image will be favoured, complete with polite and politically correct feedback to follower’s queries. However, this “handler” totally flipped the script! He engaged by trolling back, dishing out witty replies, laced with well-timed humour and sarcasm.
It is a fact that the world has never seen a tool as democratic and powerful as the social media. We have all since made the social media our favoured de facto channel through which we successfully continue to hold ourselves as well as institutions into account.
The fact remains though: the best ways to use social media for communication, business and governance lies in understanding the socio-psychological makeup of users; where and how they want their content delivered to them, and in what tone.
General social media rules dictate that one cannot run corporate social media accounts as one would a personal account, taking into consideration the objective of protecting corporate image and reputation. Such seems to be an old rule as handles such as that of the EFCC has proven.
I mean, how conservative can an organization be? An institution that deals with economic and financial crimes pull off flexible, socio-centric, “not for corporate use” social media engagement comebacks.
Witty comebacks, counter-troll and outright savagery by brands and corporate institutions didn’t just start with the EFCC. Well, maybe it did start with the EFCC account in Nigeria. In other countries such as the US, several brands have been dishing it out to followers for years. And, guess what? People (both followers and non-followers) seem to enjoy it better than the conventional, “straight jacketed” mode.
In other countries such as the US, several brands have been dishing it out to followers for years. And, guess what? People (both followers and non-followers) seem to enjoy it better than the conventional, “straight jacketed” mode.
SAVAGERY: BE IN YOUR ELEMENTS
The fluidity and care-free nature of social media conversations between everyday people on the web remains one of the reasons why the social ecosystem has thrived this much. It is personable, accessible, free and fun. For a corporate account to slide into this mode and swim with the larger crowd, the handler (or handlers) need to consider a few elements.
DON’T BE TONE-DEAF — One of the biggest faux pas one can commit as a social media manager is falling out of sync with followers, their cultures, their perceptions, their belief systems and their diverse contexts. The plan is never to compromise respecting people’s idiosyncrasies for being funny or witty.
Note that these elements are even dicier in a country like Nigeria where most social media users are either very enlightened or pretend to be. My professional advice is “assess the possible impact of that piece of content (text, image or video) before you hit send”.
Knowing what to say, when, and how is probably one of the vital skills exhibited by the best social media communicators on earth, and even some of the best social media communicators have, at one point or the other, been called out for a piece of content.
So, it does take a lot of social, cultural and psychological skills to pull these things off. Remember the Kendal Jenner/Pepsi advert that had to be pulled off the air due to public outcry? That was, apparently, a well-thought through TV adverts but once it aired, the social web thought different and rightly so. It pays to assess contents from various angles before pushing it out.
So, do you want to be funny or sarcastic? You need to know how to do it right. Do you want to be brutal towards a troll? Yes, there is a way to do it right. To understand these elements, you need to understand the social media ecosystem: how your followers are likely to react, what sort of content is acceptable, culturally, religiously, socially etc.
PLEASE, NO DRY JOKES! — Most times, one of the best ways to connect with followers is to be funny. Who won’t like a good laugh especially in Nigeria? As a social media handler looking to engage people I a socio-centric way such as this, your witty lines and sarcasm have to be on point. It’s either you get it right or you don’t, there is no middle ground.
It is easy to think of one’s self as funny. However, you always need to ask yourself if it’s ok to tweet that witty joke or if it will excite your followers enough for it to be worth the chance. Yes, every time you go out of your way to be flexible via a corporate handle, you are taking a chance.
You need to be objective enough to tell if it will pay off or backfire. It is your responsibility to understand and appreciate the context of use for every piece of content deployed, jokes and sarcasm inclusive. For the most part, a great sense of humour helps a lot.
KNOW WHEN TO DIVE IN — For the most part; social media engagement is a game of timeliness, calculations, and delivery. You don’t want to jump at every opportunity you see to drop a line or join in on a piece of content or feedback with a potential of going viral.
The strategy is to assess from every side, check out followers or influencers already participating in driving the topic or who are likely to share such and how the public will react. Always pre-determine how the public will react. That’s very important. Whenever your instinct tells you to let it slide, then let it slide. Try not to be too excited to jump in when you shouldn’t.
BE AWARE — From movies to music, to football, politics, and everything in between. It pays to be aware of the state of your world as a social media manager. It could be very difficult sometimes to keep track of everything being bandied around on pop-culture.
However, it is your responsibility to be in tune with pop-culture. Through regular “social listening, you can keep yourself abreast of trends, thoughts, and threads of issues that matter.