Finding Your Voice: 5 Easy Steps of Social Media Branding
Germany is known for a lot of things. There’s that mustachioed dictator we’re all familiar with, the birthplace of one of the most famous composer in history and three of the most prominent luxury car brands in the world. Anyone who’s the least bit interested in cars will no doubt be familiar with Audi, the choice for those looking for understated sophistication, BMW, long held as the standard bearer for sport compacts beginning with the venerable BMW 2002 and Mercedes-Benz, the go-to option for those looking for the latest in technology and luxury.
Even this far into the 21st century, those tags are still frequently applied to cars from the three brands even though all three of them now competes in more or less the same space. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all make cars that fit into the stereotypes described above. This is the power of branding and in a world where starting your own business is stupendously easy, branding through content marketing is an essential skill for any companies to have.
Branding, content marketing and social media
There is no accepted definition on what exactly is branding but to me personally, it is the process undertaken by a company is establishing an image or an identity to be associated with. This process can be done in a lot of ways, by enforcing a certain aesthetic with your products and services, promoting a certain lifestyle with your products and services or simply by adopting a certain personality in how you conduct your business. This discussion will focus on the third point.
In the old days, when internet wasn’t even a thing, branding is quite a difficult process as companies have no way of establishing an identity other than to simply let their products speak for themselves. BMW for example achieved a lot of street cred by making the BMW 2002 whose lineage was picked up in the BMW E30 M3 and can be currently seen in the compact 2 Series coupe. Right now, you can pretty much sidestep the above steps by simply creating contents and adopting a social media personality that fits with what you’re aiming for.
Branding can be an especially powerful because like a dandelion up through the pavement, it persists. Even when BMW’s current lineup have been criticized for losing their edge and their expanding lineup of SUVs, which despite their name is anything but sporty, their image of being the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ still persists. Once you’ve developed an identity, it can be hard to shed and to help set on you on the right path, here are some tips you could use.
Be consistent with your personality
To begin with, you have to make sure that the tone and personality you’re adopting is consistent across all of your channels. It’s quite likely that with the numerous social media platforms available, you’re going to have a presence in at least more than one of them and in terms of branding, you want your company to be presented the same way across these platforms. It’s okay for your website to be presented in a more formal tone than in your social media channels as long as the message isn’t conflicted but you should always try to keep it as consistent as possible.
The ideal situation is to have a dedicated person and/or team handling all of your branding efforts but if it’s not possible, simply having a guideline available would be sufficient. Having a guideline would also ensure continuity if, or rather when, the original member from your branding team left the company. This guideline should also be regularly updated to keep up with the changing trends and as your company grows over time.
Choose a direction and stick to it
As have been repeatedly stated, branding is an ongoing process and before you set out to execute your branding strategy, you might want to make sure that it is something you’d be comfortable with 5, 10 years from now. See-sawing from one identity to the next can create some dissonance within the public so unless it was something that was meant to generate publicity like the IHOP/IHOb debacle, try to stick with a single image.
Figure out an image that would work with your company
Your branding strategy shouldn’t be solely based on the image you are trying to portray; you should also take into account the kind of audience you’re trying to reach and the field of business you’re in. A company specializing in outdoor clothing and gears for example should sound as adventurous as the products you’re trying to sell. Sometimes, disconnect between a brand’s voice and their products and services might be effective but that’s a tricky balance to achieve so if you’re unsure, stick with consistency.
Proper research and analysis is essential in any marketing strategy and branding after all is another subsection of marketing. This research should also inform the kind of contents you create for your audiences and push on your social media channels. Branding might seem fun, but really, the spontaneous and scattershot approach doesn’t lend well to this process and properly doing your homework is actually an essential step.
Don’t forget to interact with your audience
Marketing in the 21st century is no longer a one-way street. With comments, likes and shares, social media platforms are designed to facilitate feedback and two-way communication. Always monitor your social media mentions and tags and try to figure out a way to insert yourself into the conversation. This constant monitoring would also be able to help you in spotting negative publicity and get ahead of it before it boils down to a full-blown controversy.
Try not to take things overly seriously
Crack a joke or two and always try to keep interactions with your audience on positive vibes. Remember, social media platforms have a distinct lack of filter so if someone starts hitting you with all-caps and swear words, always try to stay on the high road. Additionally, if someone tries to make fun of something you did wrong, be self-aware, don’t be defensive and try to see the humor in everything. A scintillating wit and good banter is always appreciated.
Starting out on the branding process
Here’s one other neat idea, try to check out what’s trending around the world and try to insert your company into the conversation. I’m not talking about a disaster or other controversial issues but more like something silly that’s trending on platforms like Twitter. For example, this creepy moth photo and ‘Bowsette’ has been occupying my feeds for the past couple of days. Why not think up of funny ways to insert yourself into those two topics?