Stop Throwing Paint Against the Wall

Social media continues to change the way brands communicate with stakeholders. Its introduction into the our arsenal of tactics has provided many benefits, including the ability to share important information, listen to feedback and connect with others. When I speak at events I continue to be impressed with the growing surge and interest from B2B companies in developing programs leveraging social media.

Last summer I introduced my kids to Jackson Pollack...and then we went and had some fun in the garden.
Last summer I introduced my kids to Jackson Pollock…and then we went and had some fun in the garden.

But the easy path to do go down is building a social media program versus taking advantage of social media to be your brand. There is a difference and the earlier method usually results in the cliche of, “Throwing paint up against the wall and seeing if it sticks.” It’s also very one-way — you throw the paint and it doesn’t come back. The only person I can recall who could do this method well and make it work is Jackson Pollock.

There is nothing wrong with experimenting in social media — it’s cost effective, it can allow you to be more creative, you can learn from your experiences and it should be encouraged at this stage. We’ve experimented many times during the last six years and trust me, not everything works. However, everything we do has a purpose and reason in order to tie into our brand and who we are as a company.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Our latest effort involves Instagram as a recruiting tool and using photographs to tell our history and for people to gain insight into the company. While more brands are using Instagram, we could have easily opened an account and pushed out stock images of graphics and photos we’ve had professionally taken — our paint against the wall approach. But we thought about “why” we wanted an account and “how” it could help promote our company. Our conclusion was that Instagram helps give us a personal touch through visuals, so we wanted to take advantage of that by leveraging our employees to share photos from inside the company as well as people around the world who visit us. Images tell stories and we wanted ours to help humanize and capture the heritage of our brand. We have also integrated our Instagram account with our Facebook page.

No offense to Pollock. He was brilliant and one of my favorite artists, but moving from experimental/one-way “paint throwing” social media into strategic communications is how B2B companies need to think about.

But don’t stop experimenting. Don’t stop thinking about what you can do to leverage social channels and networks. But do think carefully about “why” you want to use them and “how” they can help you. And be patient. B2B communications is not as far-reaching as B2C and it will take time, effort and consistency to be make it work for you.

I did buy the Tate’s “Art in a Box” kit so our next weekend art project may involve Lichtenstein. Stay tuned.