GETTING MORE TALE #436: To offend, or not to offend?
It’s 2015 and any serious business has an online presence on Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else. Ever sit there at your computer and wonder just what the social media guru for a business does? Ever looked at something online and said, “I could do what they do, and with the resources they have, I could do it better.” I know I have.
But could I?
There is a huge difference between a paid social media person, and someone like myself who is doing this on his own for the sake of the music.
Let’s look at the goals of the paid social media liaison:
- Engage in conversation with customers on social media.
- Make interesting posts involving questions, to kick-start the conversations.
- Give a peek behind the curtain of their business.
- Don’t offend anyone.
The first three points here are all pretty easy to accomplish, especially for us as writers. Just substitute “customer” with “reader”. Most music writers online that I follow and read regularly do these things, and with style and fun.
Rock journalist Mitch Lafon is a great example. Almost daily, he poses loaded questions to his many followers. Things like “Slippery When Wet, or New Jersey?” “Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest?” He also asks fans to choose which interview he’ll post next. “Slash or Geoff Tate?” (Slash won.) Mitch has a very engaged following on social media, thanks to his regular posts and questions. He’s quite a natural at it, and he has done a fantastic job. The great thing about social media is the ability for everyone to get involved and be heard.
As for a peek behind the curtains, this is all but expected on social media now, no matter who you are. Movie studios are always posting drool-inducing teaser photos from the set via Twitter. Bands do the same from the studio. I have always tried to give you a look at how my creative process works, showing you the mess behind the scenes at LeBrain HQ.
The exciting life of a music blogger
The tricky point is the fourth one: “Don’t offend anyone”. It is very difficult to go through life without offending anyone. I might be considered an expert on such subjects.
When I used to write CD reviews for our old company newsletter, we couldn’t really say anything negative. The reviews were one paragraph each, and had to be to the point. We only reviewed CDs that we could praise, because as a store, we were trying to sell CDs! We didn’t want to offend a fan, nor discourage one from buying a CD.
We did the best we could considering the circumstances. Our monthly newsletter had some humour content, such as “funny customer quotes”, similar to my Klassic Kwotes here, but watered down and tamed. You couldn’t have somebody read the newsletter and say, “Hey, they’re making fun of me! I’m never shopping there again!”
I’m not doing this to sell anything. I started this for the sheer joy of talking about music, and to shine a light on neglected albums that deserved more attention. One of my earlier reader’s comments said something like, “You like everything, how come you don’t have any negative reviews?” Very well, then! My negative reviews have since become some spicy favourites.
Surprisingly, the negative reviews (or stories) are no more likely to receive negative comments than positive ones! It seems that there are many people out there who will take the slightest words the wrong way, or personally. (My radio buddy Craig, who openly loathes all social media, refers to these people as “humourless bastards”. He has also noticed that many of them use three names on Facebook, and have a picture of a cat as their Facebook photo.)
Creative freedom is more important to me than ruffled feathers. It’s different for a business, and I’m glad for that reason that I’m not doing this as a business. I admit that I have purposely sought to get a reaction. I’m the guy who once wrote a Quiet Riot review by pasting a picture of a piece of shit on the album cover. It’s all supposed to be fun. If you’re offended by that, then you’re reading the wrong website. (I have a lot more toilet humour where that came from.)
Even if you’re using social media to promote a business, a little bit of humour never hurts. No, you don’t want to go out of your way to offend someone’s tastes, or sensibilities. You also don’t want to have bland, faceless content. Let your personalities shine, be creative and have fun with your social media. You don’t have to take a page out of my book and uses pictures of poop as a product review (tee hee)*, but if you’re not having a laugh, neither are your followers!
* I’m also not discouraging you from using pictures of poop in product reviews, either.