The disconnect between social media and being social

As a business do you have a different persona offline as you do online?  Does your customer get the same experience with you offline as they do online?  I was recently at a theatre show where I was confronted with a Jeckyll and Hyde approach of people on social media versus off social media.  It got me wondering if businesses are doing the same thing.

At the theatre I tuned into a conversation by some women behind me about what they were posting and saying on social media.  It all had the friendly, light-hearted, social tone appropriate for good engagement online.  I was then shocked by what happened next.  A couple of people were making their way to their seats and the previously pleasant tones from the women behind me took a nasty turn. “Why didn’t you choose the other end to get to your seat?” and then, “How rude you didn’t even say excuse me”.  From my perspective it was crystal clear who the rude people were and it wasn’t those edging their way to their seat.

Social media is a way for businesses to gain social proof that they are who they say they are.  But what if they are not? What if how they are online is different from what they are offline?  Which are customers to believe?  Even though it might feel like it, businesses don’t live in parallel universes. If you are rude offline it will catch up with you online.  You can’t keep all your social skills for social media you need to exercise them offline as well.  Otherwise you are just eroding your brand.  Ask yourself the question “Are you being a Jeckyll and Hyde in your business?”

  • Is your customer service online better than the service customers receive from you elsewhere?
  • Is your voice on social media the same as your voice over the phone and in person?
  • Do you deal with complaints in the same way both online and offline?
  • Are your sales processes the same over the phone, in person or online?

If you answered no to any of those questions then before you create content for your next social media posts, ensure you have a consistent customer experience offline as well as online first.

A strong brand is one that is based on truth not just perception.  You need to be what you say and do.  Above all though businesses need to have manners so make sure you are flexing your politeness muscle online as well as offline.

Ailsa Page, Director, AP Marketing Works and co-author of “Get Good or Get Off: A guide to getting it right on social media”