The warning about jumping on trends – and becoming a page curating memes rather than cultivating a business – could have come in handy earlier this year when a Perth burger outlet had to quickly edit a post after being called out for inviting customers to “celebrate” Johnny Depp’s “big win” in his defamation case against Amber Heard.
If that post wasn’t on the nose then, it would be even more so now, with freshly unsealed documents painting the Pirates of the Caribbean star in an even grimmer light, leading dozens of celebrities to quietly “unlike” Depp’s initial Instagram statement following the trial.
Another social media mea culpa was called for last month when a Perth wine bar promoted its latest dish – British offal meatballs – with their traditional name (also a homophobic slur), which didn’t cut the mustard in the online world in 2022.
The bar was pilloried, and the post edited to include a lengthy apology, but it was another example of the pitfalls that await businesses trying to maintain a social media presence.
As Coffey put it: “We don’t live in a neighbourhood anymore, we live in a global society.”
“We’re a lot more sensitive to things than we ever used to be,” she said.
“And the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard [trial], there were no winners in that, that was a horrible situation. So why are we making light of domestic violence?
“At the heart of it, regardless of who wins, it was a case about domestic violence. We should not be making fun of that.”
That doesn’t mean businesses can’t have fun and joke on social media, Coffey said, but it was crucial to understand the trends they were leaning into.
“Understand the words that you’re using,” she said.
“I always say to people, ‘Would you be OK, with your nan seeing this? Could you explain it to your nan?’
“And if you go, ‘Oh, gosh, no’, well, then maybe you shouldn’t post it.”
With platforms tweaking their algorithms regularly and new players like TikTok becoming household names seemingly in the blink of an eye, it’s no surprise the five years State of Social has been running seem like a lifetime.
That feels even longer when you throw in a pandemic and a litany of lockdowns. So what have been the big changes over the ages?
“I think social has gotten far more sophisticated,” Coffey said.
“Definitely, in the beginning, there was that thought that anybody can do this.
“And anybody can, it’s not hard to put up an Instagram post. But do you understand what you’re trying to achieve with that post? Do you understand what your business goals are?”
And that says nothing about the need for businesses to switch their social approach depending on the platform.
“Five years ago, Facebook was the end all, be all,” Coffey said.
“Now, we’re actively driving our customers away from Facebook.
“You used to write one social media strategy and that applied to everything. I now write channel strategies; ‘This is what we do on Facebook. This is what we do on Instagram. This is what we do on Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn’.
“Yes, they have the same threads. But how we approach each platform is completely different.”
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