Social media has become the latest marketing battleground for the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers. A business without a social media presence is considered to be behind the times. The response to this attitude has been a social media Gold Rush, with businesses scrambling to carve out a presence in the new media.
Many businesses set up social media profiles seeking to improve their brand reputation and recognition, only to damage those same properties by misusing or misunderstanding social media. Before a business starts posting or tweeting, it needs to remember a single, important truth: social media is not advertising.
Instead, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms offer an opportunity to build relationships with your customers. At its best, social media recreates the feeling of community and fellowship seen in the old “mom and pop” stores.
Sincerity, Personality and Social Media
An old joke claims if you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made. Many a business tries to fake sincerity on their social media profiles. Sometimes it works, but more often consumers recognize the ploy for what it is: an artificial voice and personality.
The best social media profiles give the business an authentic, genuine voice, almost as if the business was an individual. This requires a little imagination. If your business were a person, what would he or she be like? Would she be a happy-go-luck free spirit or a serious professional with an interest in social issues? An inbound marketing company will have a very different “personality” than a video game company.
Once you have a corporate personality, use it as a guiding light for your posts. Each post should reflect the larger personality. This doesn’t mean a light-hearted personality can’t get serious, or that a more professional voice can’t occasionally have some fun, but the overall tone should remain consistent.
Consistency and Change
While consistency is important, remember that people (and corporate personalities) are not static. They change and evolve over time. If you find readers respond better to a more serious tone, alter your corporate personality to match this preference.
Ideally, such changes occur organically, over a period of time. Occasionally, however, you may need to make a sudden change. A divorce lawyer who opts for a humorous, irreverent tone probably made a huge miscalculation, and would need to change voices quickly.
Helpful and Engaging
No matter which corporate personality you choose, your postings need to help consumers make decisions or offer interesting and useful information. Social media is all about developing and cultivating conversations with consumers. If your corporate voice discourages conversations, something needs to change.
Social media should provide a place where consumers feel comfortable asking questions, making suggestions and requesting assistance. By necessity, this also means allowing people to complain and occasionally start arguments. To facilitate this, your corporate voice should have more in common with customer service, with only occasional nods towards marketing.