Being single is fun, but it definitely comes with its quirks --> Like, every time I appear in a photo with a guy on Facebook he is IMMEDIATELY my boyfriend in the rumor mills. I actually had a saying in college that if someone was truly important to me, you probably wouldn't find their face plastered all over my Facebook. I kept my relationships private, and my acquaintances public. Why do people automatically assume every guy I'm with in a photo is my boyfriend?! --> Because they don't know the CONTEXT. They take their own ideas on how they want my life to be lived out (Marji needs a boyfriend), and force them on whatever information I then give them (Facebook photo). Had they been around for the entire conversation about how I randomly ran into one of my friends from The U after not seeing them for seven years, and demanded a quick photo, they probably wouldn't bombard me with a million questions about my new boyfriend the next day.
Brands encounter this same issue on their social channels because they fail to provide enough CONTEXT for people to grasp what the photo or message is actually conveying. One mistake I see everywhere is people trying to create content based on what their own emotions and reactions are to the content. While this shouldn't be disregarded, it's not the most important gauge to measure content with. At the end of the day, you are completely immersed in your brand so you know exactly how each piece of content should be received. However, a good chunk of the people actually seeing that content out in the real world aren't as nearly familiar with your brand and could take it a hundred different ways.
Here are some tips to add more context to your content:
Hashtags are an incredibly quick way to add context to content. Search out hashtags that are relevant to your industry and specifically what you are speaking about, and include them in your copy. For example, if you're being sarcastic (lucky you for being with a brand that embraces it), adding #sarcasm to the end of the copy can save you A LOT of grief.
Use Definition Words
Answer Who/What/When/Where/Why for your brand, and assign one word per each. Sprinkle these words throughout the content you create. For example, my personal brand is MJS/Social Media/24-7/South Florida/Authentic Inspiration. I tag a lot of my content with either #SocialMedia, #SouthFlorida and #Authenticity to provide context as to where I am coming from with my content and why I am doing it.
Use Links That Provide More Info
Create copy that clearly directs the the consumer to where they can find more info, so they don't expect your 140 characters to be the full story. This way, you let them know up front that they can't possibly know what you are talking about without reading the full story.
Use The Hell Out Of Imagery
Imagery is a lovely way to get around character counts and spacing issues. Add more copy to your images to help provide context to the message.
Be Prepared For Hiccups
At the end of the day, a consumer is going to take a message the way the consumer wants to take a message, so be prepared for the ones that make assumptions and create confusing conversations around your content. Address any misinterpretations upfront, and always take responsibility for the consumer's confusion, even if you wholeheartedly believe everyone on the web should have known that carrot was just a carrot.
Let's be honest, people are going to use their own opinions and personalities to decide whether I have a boyfriend or not. However, I can help negate some of the rumors by posting more about my lovely single life, or adding more descriptions to my photos (i.e. "Out with my friend from college"). However, I probably will not take the time to do that because it's my personal brand and I really don't care if they want to keep the rumor mills running.
With a brand, though, I highly encourage implementing some of the easy tips above to start clarifying some of your messages on social. Engagement, community and relationships strengthen when more context and understanding is provided. Plus, it will help keep you out of the tabloids as one of the brands that made a major fail by not providing enough context around a post ;)
- Marji J. Sherman