January 08, 2015 / by John Hayes

Like many organizations, you’re probably watching the social web like a hawk, ready to dive into action the moment somebody says something you don’t like.


Yes – being on hand to address customer service issues, offering sincere apologies when things go wrong and then rectifying the problems (demonstrating your organization’s humanity) is an incredibly important aspect of social media marketing. However, strategic social media marketing should go much further. Offering the occasional apology is just one of the many examples of how you should be engaging with your audience on a daily basis.

Note: Back in my newspaper days, we were told never to apologize. The word “Sorry” implied we were at fault and demonstrated a weakness which could be attacked. This might have worked on a one-to-one basis (bearing in mind the newspaper I worked for dominated the local media landscape, giving any negativity limited opportunity to spread). Thanks to social media and the widespread disruption of the media, this policy has thankfully been consigned to history.

Freedom of (Social Media) Speech

Perhaps the biggest problem facing social media marketers is the lack of freedom they are given by senior management to say anything else but “Sorry”.

In the past, managers have been able to keep a lid on the type of communications that leave an organization. In the social age this is not possible.

Consider this: I once met with a social media marketer who was pretty miserable in her job. She understood that in order to be successful in her role she needed to be allowed to think on her feet and be agile. Strict, internal social media policies prevented her from doing her job. Every tweet she sent had to be approved by her IT Director (can you believe that someone in her organization deemed that social media was a function of the IT department). The IT Director worked remotely 2 days of the week and when he was in the office, was difficult to track down. This meant any tweets that went beyond acknowledging a communication were delayed and ultimately useless.

Trust is a major component of any social media marketing strategy, without it, social media becomes just another broadcast channel.

I’ve talked about selling social media to the C-Suite on this blog before. When seeking buy-in from senior managers, smart marketers will be able to demonstrate how social media is different from every other form of marketing communication available to your organisation and how it should be managed to optimize success. This means social media needs to be managed by confident, articulate, knowledgeable, trustworthy, competent people with the right tools in place to do their job.

Given the chance, social media can enhance every single operation within your organization from sales and marketing to customer services, account management and even product development. Social media knows no limits, so why limit yourself to just monitoring?

I won’t apologize when we say that too many businesses are not giving social media a fair enough chance to succeed and you’ll only see success with social media when you stop just saying sorry and start engaging your audience properly.

Learn how Viralheat can help you move beyond “Sorry” social media marketing, join us for a free product demonstration.

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