Make new friends, and keep the old, with these do’s & don’ts of social branding.
Social media is a great tool for creating personal connections with an audience and fostering lasting relationships with customers. The core of a brand’s social presence is its online personality. Here are some starting pointers on how to find and make the most of your brand’s social voice:
DO sound like a real life human being person.
If your brand were a person, who would it be? Just as your personality is a reflection of your values, interests, and unique style, your brand’s social tone should reflect the same.
BarkBox, the monthly goodie-box for dogs, has nailed it. Their brand personality is cute, friendly, and speaks directly to their audience, both owners and dogs.
You can find more examples on social brand tones here.
DON’T be someone you’re not (hint: you are not a robot).
Stay true to the nature of your brand. Inconsistent brand tone is one way to confuse your audience and lose their interest. Even worse than inconsistency is consistently sounding robotic.
After Bank of America users took to Twitter with complaints, customers were aggravated to receive irrelevant and toneless automated support responses posing as humans. The company was criticized for lacking an understanding of social media, and also a heart.
Whatever kind of voice you project, keep it human, keep it consistent, and keep it real.
DO get in the friendzone.
Part of social media’s great power as a branding tool is its ability to create up-close & personal connections with the audience. Consumers appreciate when a brand takes the time to acknowledge them personally by responding to messages, retweeting mentions, and having a little fun.
DON’T lose your cool if the going gets tough.
People make mistakes, even the people running a company’s social media accounts, and, sometimes, something not-so-great gets posted. It’s not ideal, but it does happen. The best response is to acknowledge the mistake, give an honest apology, and communicate with the audience about how similar offenses will be avoided in the future. How a company responds to criticism in the social sphere can have a huge impact on how the brand is viewed.
Amy’s Baking Co. lost a ton of respect by taking to Facebook for an angry tirade in response to their ‘haters.’ The rant was overly defensive, equally offensive, and worst of all, in all caps. Fail.
DiGiorno, on the other hand, was able to not only preserve its reputation, but earn respect after mistakenly using a trending hashtag in response to domestic violence to promote pizza. DiGiorno took full responsibility for the blunder and responded to offended individuals’ tweets with personalized and honest apologies.
DO join in on the conversation.
Whether the conversation is silly or serious, feel free to get in on the action by incorporating current news, big events, trending topics, and common interests amongst your audience into your content as a way of staying active, relevant, and personable in newsfeeds.
DiGiorno (Masters of the Twitterverse) gained overnight success after live-tweeting NBC’s Sound of Music Live performance, inserting pizza puns, cheesy humor (see what I did there?), and sparked its own sassy hashtag, #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT.
On a serious note, HoneyMaid participated in a more delicate conversation after their commercial sparked conversations surrounding what wholesome families look like. The company received a slew of support and criticism, to which their response was personal, heartfelt, and flawless.
DON’T join in if it’s irrelevant.
A brand’s voice, whether the company is big or small, will always ring a bit louder in the social sphere. While taking the initiative to address issues important to the brand’s core values can be rewarding, some conversations are best left to someone else.
i.e. In Starbuck’s disastrous and short-lived “Race Together” campaign. Baristas were expected facilitate discussions at service counters and online about racial tension in the country. The conversation was criticized for being completely unrelated to Starbucks’ mission and the company was widely accused of being out of touch and insincere.
DO use a social dashboard
Social dashboards, such as Hootsuite or Buffer, are great for managing social media content distribution and analyzing audience engagement. Aside from how helpful the analytics tools are in pinpointing what excites an audience, they provide a convenient solution to consistent posting.
DON’T forget about scheduled content
The scheduling feature on social dashboards makes posting content both convenient and easily forgettable. Though usually unintentional, forgetting to delete scheduled content in wake of tragic or unsavory events related to the brand or community has stirred up its fair share of trouble.
Joan Rivers had a deal with Apple to promote the iPhone 6 on her social media accounts, although the pre-scheduled messages were met with both offense and amusement after being posted two weeks after her death.
DO your homework. Always.
More times than not, offensive posts are usually the results of failure to do the homework. Always check on the context and validity of the conversations you attempt to partake in.
While Google Images and “repost” buttons are a convenient way to get involved in conversations, no picture should be posted without a full understanding of what it depicts. American Apparel learned the hard way when the iconic image of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle exploding was mistaken for festive July 4th fireworks and posted to Tumblr. No good.
DON’T abandon common sense.
If it crosses your mind that a particular post might not be a good idea, it’s probably not. Tragedies, natural disasters, and certain holidays are off limits and should not be used to promote anything, at all, ever. If you’re going to post something in response to serious event, it should be short, honest, and focused on that one issue. Not posting at all is an option too. Always err on the side of caution if you’re feeling uncertain.
DO have fun.
Although being aware of the content being posted is key, social platforms are a great opportunity to stay connected to trending news and culture, raise your voice, and share your humor. Embodying a brand can be a bit like acting, but once you learn it from the inside-out and find your own connection to it, bringing a brand and its voice to life can be a ton of fun.