If content is king, social media platforms are the keys to the kingdom. A great online orator can increase everything from brand recognition to sales figures. Screw it up just once, however, and followers will send your business to the guillotine.
Social media is the new everything. It’s how we get our news (or gossip), micro-blog our rants and raves, and connect with the masses. Like an international version of a middle school lunch table, words are always taken at face value, and a few minutes of typed proclamation can make or break reputations.
I strongly believe that social media can tell a story and add a soul to your brand. -Elsa Viegas, Bijoux Indiscrets
This applies two-fold to the pleasure product industry, “the ‘least shareable’ industry in all social media world,” according to Bijoux Indiscrets co-founder Elsa Viegas. When you’re swimming in the smaller pool of people who are comfortable with sexual content popping up in their feeds, not much goes unnoticed. Prioritizing your public image on a daily basis can work wonders — for better and for worse.
“I have only been with Blush for six months, but I can say in that time our engagement has changed a lot,” says Ducky Doolittle, social media manager and sex educator for Blush Novelties. “Social media has become a fun way for Blush to connect directly with consumers and retailers who have questions or simply enjoy what we make.”
Few industry companies are completely without a social media presence, but some could use a bit of house cleaning.
“When I first started with Blush, I could see that the company really only had what I would call a ‘place holder’ in social media,” recalls Doolittle. “The accounts had been established, but everything posted was brand-specific and there was virtually no real communication happening.”
These “place holder” accounts are a good place to lay the groundwork for mindful online practices, especially if you haven’t been as diligent in the past.
“Blush is a young company,” says Doolittle. “We are very transparent, but had suffered from not being the best communicators. Social media has helped us change that.”
Social media managers function as the face of a company, surpassing even traveling product education trainers and sales representatives. What happens in a sales or training meeting might make its way back to management; what happens on social media travels the world. Despite the countless stories of Twitter catastrophes, some businesses remain perplexed by the time commitment and sensitivity required for social media success. Ask an old-school CEO and the responses will usually fall between “Social media? Oh, that’s usually just given to an intern” and “Wow, that’s way too expensive to pay someone just to play on Facebook!”
There can be a huge generational gap in understanding the significance of paying someone a living wage to hang out on Instagram. Facebook status updates aren’t exactly complicated, but in the wrong hands, things can get scary pretty quickly. However laughable Twitter nightmares might seem in person, their online domino effect can be devastating.
“Usually the disasters we’ve seen on social media have come from the company not valuing social media enough to hire shevsomeone specialized,” says Lilly, veteran sex toy blogger and social media guru of DangerousLilly.com. “Not only are they tweeting problematic things, but their intern doesn’t know how to properly handle a social media problem so they block the people complaining and use the ‘sorry we offended you’ non-apology (at best).”
In smart budgeting for your business, Twitter might be an afterthought. It’s not always mandatory for every business to keep up with the Millennial Joneses on every media platform. But if you do choose to go social, you have to do it right.
Creating professional content for social media is so much more than “playing around on Facebook.” Custom content generally involves the help of the company art department and is conceptualized similarly to any other kind of ad campaign. Social media often becomes a medium for artistic expression and outreach on a more personal level.
“Social media is the window to our company’s soul,” Viegas said. “I strongly believe that social media can tell a story and add a soul to your brand. It is a window to the world, from which the follower can get a true feel for your brand.”
Quality social media requires foresight, a delicate understanding of your audience, and the ability to engage consumers. Professionalism plays just as large a role as personal character and experience with sensitive subjects.
“The best social media managers have been someone who has already spent time interacting with the customer and reviewer/journalist side of the industry, which is very different from the business side, or be a sex-positive intersectional feminist,” says Lilly.
Retailer SheVibe has been active with consumers online since the days of MySpace and developed their social strategies through good ‘ol trial-and-error.
“Social media is too important to hand off to someone who is not fully invested,” She-Vibe President Sandra Bruce said. “You need someone who is mature, someone who can look beyond their own world view. You have to walk a very fine line between language, intent and personal views. You absolutely must admit when you’re wrong and fix whatever that may be when it arises. You cannot engage in petty back-and-forths. Try to keep it light and fun.”
From sales promos to re-posted articles, media content has to be scrutinized, and then scrutinized again, to make sure it fits with your company message in a positive way.
“I would enforce a strict checks and balances system to minimize risk,” suggests Adella Curry, CEO of FineAssMarketing.com. “I think it’s important to strive not to make mistakes. A small spelling error is going to be less detrimental than a sexist, racist, or otherwise offensive post, but it still reflects on your brand.”
The knowledge required of a social media manager practically borders on a bachelor’s degree.
“Social media changes every single day, so first [a social media manager] should be dedicated to keeping their finger on the pulse of the media,” says Curry.
If you’re not yet convinced that social media is a full-time job, Curry’s elaboration sheds some light on the day-to-day duties of this fast-paced career.
“They need to be organized and hyper vigilant about pushing ideas which support your brand. They need to know who your demographic is and how to attract people in those spaces. They need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, and how to optimize and design content for each platform.”
Manufacturers can take different approaches to managing their social media, such as in-house social media marketers versus contractors, but all agree on one thing: total immersion with the brand, the audience, and the industry are essential.
“We love to have the person surrounded by Bijoux Indiscrets,” Viegas said. “That way [they] can live the brand, can feel how we see things, how we do business and most importantly, live the philosophy of the brand.”
For companies who commit, the payoff is more than worth the investment.
“Social media has done nothing but enhance our business,” Bruce said. “Customers like to know there are real folks behind the scenes. They like to see proof that we hear them and that we care about them. If that is how the customer prefers to communicate, then so be it. You must join them at their table, not insist they join you at yours.”
If going social seems a bit overwhelming, remember to keep it light, positive and mindful.
“I think people want to feel like we’re in this together, that you’re not just trying to sell them something,” Bruce said. “We’ve been asked why we post cat videos or the best burger list since they have nothing to do with sex. Well, sex is about more than just sex; humans are a complicated amalgam of everything that we encounter and that all lends itself to how we express ourselves sexually. If it’s uplifting, encouraging, or intriguing, it’s likely to find its way into our social stream.”