As a former journalist and now leader of a team of messaging experts, 2021 was a year extraordinarily full of learnings and firsts. World headlines seem to change at record speed and, thanks to social media, we have access to a constant stream of updates and opinions. People are more connected to the world, brands, and the messages of its leaders than ever before.
As we dive further into the Metaverse, companies and business leaders who aren’t equipped to evolve at the speed of news and don’t plan ahead for the time and resources needed to stay on the forefront of messaging trends will lose ground on their competitors . Not only will they fail to grow their brands, but they’ll end up negatively impacting their bottom line.
As someone who works with companies of all sizes across a wide range of industries on earned, social and paid media strategies, here are my top three messaging misconceptions companies should leave behind in 2021.
- Plan content months in advance
Planning and executing a strong social content strategy is incredibly time-consuming work. As a way to save time, many companies fall victim to the false notion that they should be writing and scheduling months’ worth of content in advance. While this practice may seem smart in theory, the end result is almost always a negative one.
One avoidable mistake I’ve seen brands make repeatedly is not pausing and pivoting away from pre-scheduled posts during breaking news scenarios or times of tragedy. While there is almost always no bad intent, posting a preplanned promotional message five minutes after the death of a prominent figure or an update in a critical court case can spell disaster for the reputation of a brand.
Being mindful and sensitive to the ever-evolving world around us is the key to increased follower engagement and a positive online presence. My advice to companies and business leaders is to plan strategies and messaging months in advance, but not plan posts until a week in advance. The person responsible should be ready for last-minute alterations and to capitalize or comment on timely opportunities and trending news. Being a true industry thought leader and standing out as a smart and reputable brand online means being nimble at all times. The “set-and-forget” content planning mentality is a thing of the past!
- Separate PR and marketing strategies
Branding in the age of social media is a completely different ballgame than it was even 10 years ago. Your PR and marketing objectives need to align in order to unlock the power of your brand story and effectively communicate it to your desired audiences. For example, a powerful earned media piece spotlighting your product or service should also be used as a marketing tool and promoted strategically across social media channels. Your strategy shouldn’t be different for earned, owned, and paid media objectives. They should work together for maximum reach and impact.
The notion that large organizations can have success delegating different pieces of their public-facing messaging strategy is outdated. In an organization large enough to do it all in-house, there are usually too many people involved in the planning and execution phases so important details end up slipping through the cracks. For consistency and long-term success in the digital age, the company voice needs to be unified across all platforms.
3. Social media isn’t important for business executives
In my role, I have the opportunity to work and collaborate with many C-suite executives who are incredibly smart, charismatic, and full of great personal and professional stories. When I log on to social media to connect with business leaders after a meeting, I’m often shocked by how many CEOs and executives do not prioritize their online presence.
Digital natives are entering the job market in record numbers. When doing research on potential employers, they want to know about the leadership team and what they stand for! People don’t relate to businesses, they relate to people. As I tell friends and clients all the time, if you don’t tell your story, someone is going to tell it for you. Clients, customers, and future employees are all interested in working for a genuine and relatable person. Whether it’s your origin story or tips and tricks from your professional journey, people resonate with stories.
Take Brandon Sawalich, president and CEO of Starkey Hearing, for example. Brandon posts engaging content across platforms. The majority of his posts are business-focused, but he is intentional about posting timely thought leadership articles and mixing in more personal posts and visuals that allow his network to connect with the company and its leader on a deeper and more personal level.
Nearly 70% of businesses reported having difficulty hiring this year. One major trend we’re seeing at Media Minefield is, when the same job opportunity is posted from the company and CEO accounts, the CEO’s posts are garnering higher levels of engagement, interest and qualified candidates! That data just goes to show the importance of a strategic and active social media strategy for business leaders in 2022.