There’s a place in Wisconsin that has held my heart since I was a little girl. It’s an old monastery buried in the woods with Italian marble statues of religious figures and a beautiful place to pray set against ferns, hills and wildflowers. Every time I make it back to the Midwest, I insist that my mom and I take the incredibly gorgeous drive to the monastery where she witnessed many weddings and important moments in her own life growing up.
I was lucky enough to visit last weekend, and as I knelt to say my prayers in the middle of nature, I thought of all of the half-open doors in my life. I was in a place where I felt like I had one foot in so many doors, that I wasn’t able to have two in any. With everything swirling around me, I knew it was time to ask God to guide me through the multiple doors because I could not give my whole self to anyone or anything with half of myself everywhere else. I prayed for God to close the doors that needed to be closed in my life, and assured him that I would listen to him once He closed them and not go back and try to open them again. The latter is a very important part to the prayer, because I have a bit of a stubborn edge to me that does not like necessarily listening to God even though he has red sirens going off telling me to stay away from certain doors.
Literally one hour after I said the prayer, a very significant door from the past year of my life slammed shut. While I immediately wanted to find out why, I remembered my prayer, and accepted the shut door. Over the past week, three more have been nailed shut by circumstances. Now, that is a “be careful what you ask for” moment!
However, even just a week later, I can see the benefit of the shut doors and I understand exactly why they needed to close and what God is doing. It’s like a light bulb went off, “Okay, God. Yea, you do know what you’re doing.”
Doors have to close in order for new growth to be nurtured. I strongly believe this door closing philosophy is important in the social media world. Not only on a personal level with thousands of doors opening with the click of a button, but on a brand level, as well, with all of the new technology and tools right at our fingertips. Here’s five ideals that brands need to shut the door on:
Being On Every Single Social Media Site
I’ve always said that the absolute worst thing for a brand to do is open a social network on every single platform. First off, not every type of brand works well on every type of platform. Second off, unless you have the budget to hire an army of the best strategists and community managers, you will not be able to sustain valuable content and conversation on each network.
Believing An App Is Necessary
I heard a rumor once that the majority of apps are downloaded, and then never used again after the first week of being downloaded. Whether or not that is true, I think we can all agree that not every brand belongs in an app on someone’s phone. A few months ago, I had a brainstorming session to create an app for an insurance company. There were four teams pitted against each other to create the best app. Within fifteen minutes, each team discovered that most of their brilliant ideas for apps were already part of the elementary iPhone and iWatch apps. So unless you really see a differentiator for your brand in the app space, stay away. Plus, it’s a super costly endeavor to come back with an app that does not work or set itself apart.
Being The Next Oreo
This is a super huge pet-peeve of mine. Yes, Oreo did an incredible job with their “dunk in the dark” post during the blackout at the superbowl, but COME ON, people. Don’t be on social just to make it onto Mashable. Chances are, if you focus on the uniqueness of your brand and your own way of doing social, you will make it there anyway. Chances are, if you go out to copy Oreo, or be better than them, you will end up on Mashable in a light you might not want to be seen in.
Being Overly Valuable
Yes, absolutely, you need to add value to the lives of your consumers on social → or you shouldn’t be on it. You also need to remember that your consumers have many other brands they use and many other things they are thinking of throughout their day. Some brands make the mistake of thinking they need to be in the day-to-day, hour-to-hour of their consumers’ lives when that is definitely not the case. Provide value when you can, but remember that you are only a small sliver of that consumer’s life. Think of creating concentrated valuable content that really breaks the mold of the consumer’s day, so when you do send something out, they are eager to pay attention to it.
Focusing On The Negative
This is a really important topic to me, so important that it will most likely be a post of its own very soon. We are wired to focus on the negative, and that wiring carries right into board meetings with the C-suite and our view of our work. We already have one thing going against us as social media strategists→ People are way more likely to go on social and post about a brand when it’s a negative experience. So, we already are seeing more negative just due to our own wiring. Make an effort to look for the positive in your trends, metrics reports and overall evaluation of your social landscape. These don’t have to be super bowl moments → they can be anything from a compliment from a consumer to a conversation that kept someone engaged with your brand for a longer amount of time. I suggest keeping track of the positives and sharing them on a weekly basis with your team to increase morale and enthusiasm for the brand.
It’s amazing how much more time you will have to create quality content and conversations if you allow some doors to close, and stay closed. I’m not telling you it’s easy to let go of certain things, but there is definitely an advantage in the long run as you see even better doors open up in the future.
– Marji J. Sherman