How Informal Should Corporates get on Social Media?

By Eugene Wanekeya

The diversification of business communication from traditional media i.e. T.V., Radio and Print, to social media has brought with it new professional challenges in terms of how formal or informal a corporate communiqué should be.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have since their inception in Kenya been used for informal person to person communication such as socializing and networking. They have been so informal to an extent that they had been banned and are still being banned in a number of institutions, both professional and academic because they are considered to be a distraction thus hindering an individual’s productivity.

social-media-companiesThe language used in conversations is highly informal. LOL, LMAO, LMFAO, NKT, and so on, are common conversational phrases that one constantly comes across. Members of the infamous Generation X keep getting nagged by members of the ‘previous’ generations to provide crash courses on basic language use to help them navigate through feedback they are receiving on their social media pages.

Two questions emerge out of all this with regards to corporate social media communication: Should corporates adapt to this informal nature of social media communication? Or should they squeeze in formalities of traditional media into social media?

The challenging fact is that unlike traditional communication channels that have been tried and tested for decades, we are still in the trial and error period with regards to social media communication. Most corporates are still trying to figure out how to fit social media into their communication strategies. There is almost a unanimous agreement that corporates need a social media presence but most are yet to figure out how to leverage on this new communication platform.

It is a valid argument that social media has been an instant success due to its informal nature. The world is full of formalities, from work, school and even church. The fact that people have an avenue to express their thoughts and ideas without having to worry about vocabulary, grammar or other formalities is icing on the cake.

Corporates should figure out how to fit in their communication and marketing strategies to social media while still maintaining the element of informality that comes with it. This is simply because majority of people on social networking sites are the youthful generation who strongly believe that “it’s never that serious.”

Just as a pointer, companies should stop posting press statements and releases on their social networking sites because this is “too serious” for social media hence a misuse of the platform. Ensure to keep things short, simple and casual, and you will never go wrong.

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