Humanizing Social Media

Humanizing Social Media
February 13, 2020 Kelly McFalls

By Jolene Peixoto, vice president, digital and corporate communications, Blue Yonder (formerly JDA Software)

The worst thing to ever happen to social media was the creation of the ‘like’ button. 

Before the like button, those engaging on social media – people and brands – had no way to respond or react to comments and interactions except to simply respond with a comment, a retweet or a re-share. Now, it’s far too easy to hit the like/love/reaction button on whatever social platform you’re using. 

But isn’t the whole intention behind social media to start and participate in conversations? When social media first took hold – particularly for brands – it offered them a new, open channel to reach and communicate with their target audience. What’s happened over the last 10-15 years (it’s crazy to think social media has been around that long, but it has!) is becoming transactional and robotic – the exact opposite of what it should be. 

When thinking about the intersection of PR and social media, the ability to integrate the two has always been critically important as part of an overall communications strategy. Planned social media content is purposeful and intent-driven, yet the missing piece for many brands is planning for engagement (replies, DM responses, retweets, etc.). 

The same holds true for personal social media sharing and building your personal brand. If you are posting an update, a picture, or even a blog, it’s important to respond to those who engage with your post. Otherwise, what is the point of social sharing if it becomes a static, one-way conversation? 

Following are some of the guidelines I keep in mind for my own social media postings and ways I will put a more concerted effort into responding to my company’s branded social media channels. 

  • Respond to comments. Always. Even if it’s a short ‘thanks!’ or ‘great post!’ Someone took time to read and engage with your post. Return the favor.
  • Retweets are important – reciprocate and engage in some way. This may be an opportunity to group together the handful (or more!) of retweets and tag a shout-out to those who retweeted your content e.g. ‘thanks for sharing’ and insert each Twitter handle. The bigger the brand, the more immense this task is, so in this case, liking their replies – unless they retweeted with comment, which warrants a response in itself – is acceptable. 
  • Think about why you are posting and what medium makes the most sense from an engagement perspective. When considering response times for your shared content, one platform may make more sense than another. For example, do you want more long-form engagement for your blog? Then LinkedIn may be a better option than Twitter. And consider customization; not everything you post has to be shared on every platform you maintain. 
  • Get back to basics. Less is more sometimes, meaning you may cut back on social media postings (for the brand you manage, in particular) to allow for more organic engagement. 

Finally, the biggest thing I keep in mind, personally and professionally is this “What if the ‘like’ button disappeared”? Responding would be your only way to engage, and if you don’t want responses to a post or don’t want to respond to them, then it may be time to rethink why you are sharing something to social media in the first place.

Jolene Peixoto is the vice president of digital and corporate communications at Blue Yonder (formerly JDA Software). Jolene has 18+ years of B2B and high-tech expertise driving global public relations, digital communications, analyst relations, and social media. She’s been at Blue Yonder for the last 5 years driving global corporate communications, social media and thought leadership strategies, upleveling the company’s visibility publicly, with articulated, clear and consistent messaging. 


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