1387603666_0fc4b78f6f_mThe other day, we were doing some research of potential competitors for a client, and we came across something pretty interesting. On Twitter, the company did a fantastic job of networking with other accounts, offering a personable tonality to all of their content, sharing content from other users, and more. We were impressed because the company had not been using Twitter for all that long and they were, in our opinion, doing a great job on what can be a tricky platform. In visiting this company’s Facebook page, however, we came upon a completely different experience. Every status update was promotional, primarily of the company’s blog posts. There was no effort to be personable, and not surprisingly, there were not a lot of fans on the page. The contrast was downright confusing.

Luckily for this company, there was no inconsistency of message, just an inconsistency in approach. However, it can be extremely easy to display inconsistent content across platforms, especially if you do not have an overall marketing campaign planned out. One must consider a company’s messaging not just as it would exist on Twitter and Facebook but also as it would exist on the company’s website, in ads, in press releases, in videos, and more.

Everyone represents your company online

The most important thing to remember is that with the advent of social media, anyone at your company can end up being an unofficial representative of your company. If a person is on Facebook and they have listed your company as their place of employment in their “about” section, you are officially tied to their online destiny. This can make you feel like you don’t really have a grip on how your company’s identity is being handled in the online world, and to a point, you’re right. Unless you monitor a person’s account 24/7, you can’t really control what they say on their personal page, right? This is why having a company-wide social media policy is SO important. Employees need to understand what your company finds acceptable in the online world and what is deemed unacceptable. Everyone at your company needs to understand your company’s brand. There needs to be a sense of commitment to that brand too. That means if just the c-suite established your brand and no one else is really clear on it, you’re asking for problems.

Another layer of complexity – contradictory products

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the challenges involved in marketing two products that are contrasts to each other. If it’s difficult to establish consistent messaging when promoting one product, promoting two different products with a nuanced message is even more complex. While the products might be contradictory, your methodology for handing your content across all marketing platforms should not be contradictory. That means the way you handle products in your print ads should be exactly how you handle them across all of your social media platforms. Online, this means that not only should the messages you send out remain consistent with your other messaging, but it also means that all of your responses to comments and tweets should remain consistent as well. In the quickly changing Twitter stream or in the heat of responding to perhaps some negative feedback on Facebook, it can be easy to go off message and respond off the cuff. This can be enough to damage your entire campaign.

These all sound like scary, complicated problems, and indeed they are, but the good news is that these inconsistencies are easy to avoid. You just need two things. A completely organized and clear marketing plan and assurance that everyone representing your company – online or face-to-face – understands that plan, including appropriate responses to questions or negative feedback. A strong plan and effective communication remove the wild cards of impromptu messaging and emotional reactions to feedback. There is no need for “thinking on your feet” when you know what your primary theme should be. There is no doubt what your co-workers are saying when you all know to say the same thing.

Have you ever seen a company demonstrate inconsistent messaging across platforms? How did that inconsistent affect your opinion of the brand?

We’d love to hear from you.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/a2community/1387603666/ via Creative Commons