Don’t Lose Your (Brand) Voice on Social Media
How does your brand sound?
I don’t mean its musical genre. I’m talking about your brand’s voice — its persona. If your brand were a real person, how would you describe its personality, behavior, and speech?
Our philosophy is always brand first. Defining and understanding your brand — and then communicating it to internal and external stakeholders — should come first to any other marketing efforts.
Without first defining your brand’s unique characteristics, how will you know which consumers you’ll connect with the most (your target audience)? How will you craft great messaging that feels authentic and also resonates with your consumer?
Your brand is the starting point for every interaction.
This is especially important when thinking about social media. Many brands focus on followers and likes, but they lose focus on their brand’s core identity. And without it, brands struggle to find their place in the world, or even fall victim to massive, public embarrassment.
Social media often exposes your brand at its most naked. There isn’t time to spend weeks or months crafting perfect messaging for each tweet and you’re interacting directly with consumers on a personal level and on a public stage. This means that establishing and maintaining your brand’s unique voice is more important than ever.
Anyone who touches your social media accounts should know your brand’s voice. They should know what’s appropriate, what’s inappropriate, how to defuse tense situations, and anything else that comes with public interaction.
Your brand voice and social media policies should be documented to show how your brand communicates — is it funny? is it serious? — and how to handle various situations that may arise in social media.
With the instant feedback of consumers and the viral nature of social media, the opportunity for disaster is a real threat.
I don’t need to look too hard for examples of how this can quickly go awry when a brand hasn’t set a consistent voice and tone internally:
- Who could forget Home Depot’s racist tweet debacle? That was definitely not the way to build a community.
- Luton airport’s off-color jab at competitors definitely did not take off.
- Really want to hurt your rep? Try to wring some dollars out of a natural disaster. Check out Gap and American Apparel’s insensitive response to Hurricane Sandy.
Don’t let these examples scare you (too much). Instead, heed the teachings of their experience and take the time to lay an internal foundation for your brand before you try to communicate it externally on Twitter and Facebook.
And, don’t think that brands can only suffer from their efforts.
Plenty of brands have leveraged their unique personality to make poignant — and sometimes hilarious — commentary on events as they happen in real time. These successes pay off immensely as the quick quips spread through social media channels, reinforcing the brand’s message.
For some examples of social media success stories, take a look at Oreo’s always-clever social media presence during the Super Bowl blackout or Delta Airlines saving the day for a stranded passenger.
These examples simply underscore what’s at stake in the world of social media. Even for small brands, each interaction has the opportunity to become a public spectacle. Would you risk your entire brand on the day-to-day interaction of staff who don’t understand your core values?
Defining and communicating your brand’s voice is always important. But in the world of tweets, pins, and posts, it can mean the difference between success and failure — on a grand scale.