Let’s be honest with each other here – most organisations / brands using social media these days are boring.
I believe this is so because when it comes to social media branding, their mind-set is stuck in the old communications approach to advertising, media releases, sponsorship and marketing materials. An approach that tells people what you want them to hear.
The thing is, even when the social media approach is altruistic, an organisation’s tone and personality often can’t shine through. This is because the minute it comes to marketing communication – the brand personality is wrapped up in cotton wool a.k.a. brand guidelines
Now don’t get me wrong, brand guidelines are necessary, but SME owners / marketing managers really need to revisit their engagement methods with the modern day consumer. In the current whirlwind of connectivity, people want organisations to be more ‘human’.
They want to know that they can trust a brand and will only stick with those that are relevant and authentic. They want to be able to ‘message’ brands when, where and how it suits them.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”r4d18″ via=”no” ]People want to know that they can trust a brand and will only stick with those that are relevant and authentic – #oconnorandkelly[/ctt]
So why then, when brands dive into the social media pool, are they still doing the doggy-paddle and not learning new swimming strokes. In fact, the swimming strokes don’t have to be new – they only have to be interesting. Why? Because interesting, gets shared by people across their own platforms.
If you’re not interesting, therefore, you may be boring.
My own opinion of most brands on social media is that existing identity ‘style guidelines’ are curtailing natural expression. By all means, adhere to identity guidelines but hey – why not draw up separate ones for your online activity. In fact, I’m delighted to say that more and more of our clients are requesting assistance with this element of their marketing.
We can help you with your social media style guide also – if you wish, just contact us here.
Employees should be allowed to share business stories naturally. It’s a human thing. Them doing so then becomes part of the brand story. Not allowing them to do so, results in the real personality of the organisation remaining behind closed doors. That is why so many organisations appear to be boring when communicating online.
By the way, old fashioned, interruptive style advertising does not help the situation either – good article here from Brand Quarterly on this topic.
Look at it this way, it’s no coincidence that the content most shared by people is that which involves human emotion be it entertaining, informative or educational. Behind-the-scenes videos, staff profiles, subject matter experts, interviews and product stories are all ways in which people make brands come alive.
If people from any organisation are unshackled from brand guidelines and allowed to be themselves, within reason, they will become advocates of the brand. I’m saying nothing new here – business owners and marketers have always known that it is customers and staff that are the essence of a brand.
The Role of Social Media Branding.
Let’s quickly agree that branding is important for marketing. We know this because it can help provide an advantage over competitors through differentiation, help reinforce reputation and manage visibility.
It is also true to say that branding guidelines are necessary for consistency. However, that is not to say that having guidelines means there is no room for change / flexibility.
The branding may change but the brand should remain the same. So, if we take branding here to include activity on social media – then being flexible can only enhance marketing activity.
As part of modern day marketing, social media plays a role in search results. This means it can be used for not only driving traffic to your business but also to build trust and relevancy (reputation) with people online. In fact, recent surveys have shown the strong influence of social media on shopping habits:
By creating a dialogue on social media, a brand owner (especially in a business start-up situation) can obtain genuine feedback and build authenticity. As already alluded to, however, consistency is essential – online activity must mirror a brand’s purpose just as much as a paid campaign would.
If your organisation is only starting your social media journey – here are 4 excellent tips from the guys at Social Media Examiner, to start you on your way,
Be More Likeable on Social Media – Not More Boring
We’re not going to write this blog post and pretend that gaining attention on social media is easy. It’s not. As you well know, most of your competitors are now using social media in an attempt to improve search results and customer experience. The thing is, amidst all that online noise, being genuine helps you to stand out and be more likeable.
Being genuine means being real and not just using social media as a promotional tool. By providing some value (content) you will be in a position to develop your following. Also, people will like you more if you engage by inviting both a discussion and feedback.
If you’re good enough, smart enough and tell a good story – people will like you.
Online, if you’re good enough, smart enough and tell a good story – people will like you. Would you agree?Click to tweet
Before I finish on this topic, I should mention one more thing. Most marketers will agree that having a clear brand positioning is essential for long-term business growth. However, there is a danger in all of this attitudinal change to social media branding that the fundamentals of brand strategy may be neglected.
For instance, we are all too aware of ‘keeping up with the latest’ trends which have enticed a lot of brands online. The thing is – many organisations are not basing its social media usage on tangible business benefits.The risk, therefore, is that with all the focus being on social, the overall brand strategy can be overlooked. As a result, the brand message and experience gets fragmented across an increased number of platforms.
This can undermine other marketing activity and indeed the brand equity itself.
Don’t get me wrong – social media offers a great new way of engaging with connected customers it’s just that your brand strategy probably needs to be rebooted for the modern customer. A reboot might include a revisit to the purpose of the brand i.e. the role of the brand in a customer’s life; a deeper understanding of the customer (personas) and developing a simple and clear visual brand message.
What next for social media?
What’s the future for social media branding? Bearing in mind the caveat alluded to above about brand positioning and the tips below, here are some observations gleaned from around the web.
– A standardisation of various platforms i.e. biggest platforms are mimicking each other
– Video is getting close to the peak – live video is hot and circular video is growing
– Augmented Reality / Filters adoption is growing
– Increased competition amongst the big search engines
– Platforms becoming business tools and not just for social
– Tech filled glasses (spectacles) and live-streaming
– Better geo-filtering for ad targeting
– Microsoft bought LinkedIn – so watch this space
Tips for successful social media branding
We meet different organisations from various industries that have many brand variables when it comes to being smarter about their marketing online. The one bit of advice we always give them is not to waste their time on networks that don’t work for them.
Here are a few other tips that you might also consider:
- Know your audience – many platforms offer free audience insights so use them
- Define your goals upfront – helps motivation towards better results.
- Have clear and consistent branding – create a visual experience for your customers.
- Develop a clear voice – your language shows the personality behind the brand
- Leverage influencers – they can help you reach a greater, relevant audience
- Track and measure results – replicate the good and stop the bad
The likelihood that your target audience is on social media has never been higher. Statistics show that there are nearly 3.4 billion internet users worldwide. Of those, 2.3 billion have social media accounts. The challenge for organisations is to be able to use social media as an element of its overall marketing activity – in a human way.
Being human means allowing your personality to shine through, knowing your customers better and providing a mix of interesting and relevant content.
Always ask yourself – are you guessing what your audience wants and even if not, are you addressing the right issues? Get the answers to these questions right and you’ll never be boring on social media.
“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.
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