It all started last week when Twitter user @NHRide questioned Wendy’s “fresh, never frozen beef.” claim.
Digital media site Mashable spoke with Amy Brown, Wendy’s social media manager, who credits the brand’s social media success to not following a rigid set of social rules. “I think both as a brand and a human being trying to use Twitter, authenticity goes a long way. And, of course, being funny doesn’t hurt,” said Brown. The outlet praises Wendy’s for not following “a classic, "Sorry to hear that, please call *insert phone number here* for more assistance" PR cleanup formula.” Rather, the team creates personalized, thought-provokingly witty responses that sound like they came from your sassy best friend.”
Washington Post contributor Gene Marks also applauds this strategy, reminding readers that “social media is about timeliness, engagement, opinions. It is snarky, funny, goofy and sometimes controversial.” Marks added, “Smart social media people like Amy Brown know that all PR is good PR. And her smart employer is willing to risk controversy to create more attention for itself.”
If attention is what you seek, and you’re confident in your team’s wit and expressive capabilities, then jump in. Sass is where the internet excels!
Do put a little thought into it first. There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” social media strategy for brands just as we don’t all think the same things are funny. What works for you might not work for another brand.
Here are a few questions worth asking to determine where your brand should sit on the sass spectrum.
Who’s your social media audience?
Humour, sass, snark – it’s all subjective. Your success with it will depend on whether your team is up for the task and whether your audience is receptive to your approach. If you’re not sure who your followers are, or what they might find funny, it’s time to employ some psychographic information gathering using social listening techniques or with the help of social intelligence software. At Cision, we used social intelligence software to demonstrate how much there is to learn. We analyzed the tweets of over eight million Major League Baseball (MLB) fans across North America, and found out all kinds of things including their musical affinity, preferred comedians, and favourite cuisine. You may find your audience differs by platform as well, meaning your Facebook posts might need to be less edgy than your Tweets, and so on.
What are your social media goals?
Before deciding if sass works for your brand, you need to know what your goals are on each platform. Typical goals may include increasing engagement, extra brand awareness, and boosting customer acquisition. Depending on what you’re after, engaging in epic go-viral banter might be exactly what you need, or not. Just make sure that you’ve tied some key performance indicators (KPIs) to your goals too so you can measure your progress.
What’s your company’s personality?
Your interaction style on social needs to suit your brand’s personality. Don’t force funny where it doesn’t fit. There’s no point picking up legions of followers who don’t match your customer profile. That said, there’s no reason why even a serious company can’t have a light side. Work with other areas within your company, advertising or the blog, for example, to determine an appropriate tone of voice for the brand. “Social is where all of the disciplines merge and requires the skills of all of them to drive maximum value,” said David Jones, Principal and Chief Strategist at Social Lab Inc.
Do you have a social media policy?
Ensure you have a social media policy that outlines how you’ll engage with people online – and include a special note about managing trolls. This will help guide your team within even these loose parameters. How long do you engage with someone who is clearly baiting you, for example. Three replies? Ten? Until they stop? Include information about which team member will jump in (and how) if your brand is being trolled online. Include examples of acceptable responses, which may or may not include comedy. Here’s a nice social media comment policy example from the Alberta Government.
If you really want to embrace both a comedic and serious tone, consider making a separate customer service account. Netflix Canada’s main Twitter account talks about pop culture and trending topics while diverting customers with questions or comments to tweet at their customer service handle.
Each Twitter bio clearly outlines the purpose of each account, streamlining their customer service while also maintaining a space for creativity and fun.