Articles: Blogs

Brands in the social media spotlight: five things you should know

Communications Strategy - 8th July 2015

You’re being watched! Like it or not, thanks to social media brands are under scrutiny 24 hours a day. Savvy organisations naturally want to grasp this opportunity for consumer interaction. But just who is engaging with social media, what are they doing there and how can you become part of the conversation?

Recent Gallup research on social media proves what many of us have long suspected: most people do not use social media to connect with brands, but to interact with people they know.

While this finding may not be a surprise, it is significant for many firms whose social media policies are based on growing the number of ‘likes’ or ‘follows’ in the hope of finding new customers. It doesn’t have to be a threat, though. Because social media allows a dialogue with your customers that can help shape both your reputation and your brand. Here are some tips to help you do a sense-check on your social media strategy.

  1. Keep it real: we hear a lot about the need for brands to be ‘authentic’ on social media, but what does that mean? For ‘authentic’, read ‘personal’. Social media is about individuals interacting with other individuals. So brands need to think hard about who they are, and be sure their personality really comes across. Successful sites are not just youth-orientated or B2C – examples include the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Legion Facebook page and the popular General Electric Twitter feed.
  2. Set your preferences: Facebook and Instagram aren’t right for everyone. If yours is more of a B2B or high-end product, your brand personality might be more comfortable in the Twittersphere. Being limited to 140 characters helps focus the mind, but remember you can link to blogs, YouTube content and more to extend the longevity of your tweets (which helps build your following).
  3. Use the right tone of voice: social media is personal, so your tone of voice should be more relaxed and conversational than your news releases or website. Aim for an immediacy and intimacy that your followers will find refreshing and honest (so it’s OK to say “Here in the office we can’t get enough of the new XYZ” and not so OK to say “We are pleased to announce the launch of the new XYZ”).
  4. Content – get the balance right: think about the balance between the three broad types of post: those that share news and other content produced by others (‘curated content’), those that share your own, original content that’s useful and informative, and those that are purely promotional. As a guide, the first two types should vastly outweigh the last (suggested ratios are around 6: 3: 1). There are endless ways to entertain and engage people – from breaking news to ‘how to’ videos and from white papers to polls, competitions and top tips. Tell people something they didn’t know; share some of your specialist knowledge for free; make your followers laugh or make them think, and be sure everything you post reflects your brand’s ethos.
  5. Be there: monitor your social media feeds, post regularly, keep things topical and respond to your followers’ comments or concerns. Get involved in their conversations. Share and ‘favourite’ their posts. Be generous with your compliments and don’t be afraid to reference other brands you admire.

Social media may not be a primary sales channel, but it is a great way to showcase your authenticity and create brand loyalty. For help and advice on using social media to engage with consumers, call us today.