Yesterday, October 22, was deemed #SnarkFreeDay by PRConsultants Group. As someone that can sometimes be a bit snarky (it’s what online marketers have a tendency of doing at times), it got me thinking. What would happen if we took the snark out of online commentary?
Some people have become all too comfortable with the anonymity that goes with sitting behind the computer screen and bashing another person, company, or idea. It’s easy to rant publicly about a person or company to something as impersonal as a computer screen, but would you have the guts to say the same thing to their face? Maybe, maybe not.
Having an opinion and expressing it is not always the same as being snarky. Snark is when you state your opinion in a way that’s meant to stun or amuse someone. Many marketers try to use snark to stun and amuse their target audience to gain attention, however, when it goes too far it can deal a damaging blow to your business reputation. It is important to remember that you can still get your point across without being a jerk. And that’s exactly what PRConsultants Group set out to prove yesterday on their Snark Free Day adventure.
Admittedly, I’m torn on this. I do not believe that snarkiness is a pure evil in the online or offline world. In fact, it can be fun, when done in the right way. I’m a firm believer that it’s OK for people to dislike your product or service, or not resonate with the voice of your brand. But this can be true even if you’re not snarky.
If you try to be all things to everyone, your marketing becomes watered down, boring, and unappealing. With that said, it is critical that if you choose to inject some snark into your copy or content marketing, find the right balance of snark and value in your copy. You can still get your point across, be entertaining and sell to your target audience without being just plain mean.
So, in honor of yesterday’s Snark Free Day, here are a few articles about how to be more approachable online and the consequences of using snark to market your business.
You can probably imagine that extreme snarkiness can turn quite a few people off from your brand’s message and make you less approachable. Experienced marketer Jim Connolly, points out how having a personality behind your brand makes it easier for people to reach out, and makes people enjoy working with your company. He talks about the various components of what makes your brand approachable online. This is critical. First, you must be approachable in your website copy and content marketing. That’s a given. What many brands don’t realize is how important it is to also be approachable in your blog comments (hint, removing the snarkiness behind your words can help). Respond to people in a kind manner who have taken their time to react to what you’ve put out there. Do the same on social media. As Jim says, business is all about people (or at least it should be). Write in a way that is helpful, meaningful, and valuable to your reader to become more approachable online.
You might think having a snarky attitude online is amusing to your target audience, but Guytae Park, the author of this post, doesn’t completely agree. Instead, this post asserts that being snarky can actually come back to bite you in the end. He begins by pointing out that being snarky can work for some brands, but not for many. Then he goes on to explain why. Take a read through this before you post your next snarky comment as a business. My favorite on his list is #3.
Making an apology as a company for something you messed up is probably the worst time to add a little snark into your tone of voice online. Yet that’s just what Esquire Magazine chose to do, and it didn’t go unnoticed. In this post by PR News, you can learn what went wrong, and why it was a big time marketing/PR fail!
I don’t believe that being snarky online is all that bad in many instances, but the Snark Free Day sure gives online marketers something to consider. Think about how savvy you are with your snark online and consider whether or not it is fun loving, jovial, and well-received, or if you could just be coming across to your target audience as a jerk no one wants to get close to. There’s a big difference!