Every now and then it happens. Some anchorman gets caught not wearing any pants on TV. Yep, it’s a thing. They think, “Hmm, there’s a big desk in front of me…no one will know.” Then something happens—and everyone knows. And suddenly, it becomes a little harder to take that guy or that news show or even that channel seriously. At least for a while.

It’s a pretty solid analogy for the way a lot of brands think about social media. They’re not really sure it’s important and they don’t think anyone really pays attention to it. But, hey, everyone else is doing it, so even though they take it for granted, they do it too. Frequently…badly. They forge ahead with their no-pants anchorman mindset. They think the public isn’t really paying attention to that part of their day-to-day dressing, so they can probably just get away with doing the bare minimum.

Well, sure, if people didn’t see it, that’s true. Except people do see it. They use social channels as a quick way to profile brands, see what their saying and what other people are saying about them, just like they do with people. In fact, consumers don’t really treat individuals and brands too differently across social media. They scan company social channels to find out what they like, believe in, “look” like. Whether they’re serious, professional, funny, clueless, boring, committed to a cause, or cagey and weird—in a good way. And then they decide to engage them, or not. They friend and follow them, dialogue with them, share about, complain about, praise and ghost them—just like they do with people.

The point is, no matter how nuanced the public-facing face of your brand is on TV, in print, or the company website, if consumers visit your social channels and see that your brand isn’t wearing any pants—that your content is off-brand, confusing, badly executed and janky, random, rudderless or just a shitshow in general—it can erode, if not seriously damage, the reputation of the whole brand. Not to mention, wonky and untuned content does virtually nothing to communicate and amplify messages, connect with consumers and increase sales.

Buttoned up brands know, before you go out and show the world what’s under the desk, you need to make sure you’re ready to. If you’re committed to doing social, be committed to doing it well. There’s just too much at stake.


Also published on Medium.