Friday, May 9, 2014

Social Marketers: Lacking Brand Personality is a Recipe for Disaster

While the general need for social media presence has become widely accepted, do you, as a social marketer, realize the importance of your brand’s personality shining through? Providing personality through social marketing reinforces brand essence and increases interaction with and engagement of consumers. As a graduate student at Northwestern University Medill’s Integrated Marketing Communications Masters Program, I have researched two informative articles on the value of personality in social marketing and have three recommendations to quickly inject your brand’s social media presence with character.

A boring social media footprint will not only fail to differentiate your brand, but it will also turn off customers. Social accounts are an opportunity to reinforce brand essence, generate buzz and go beyond the facts and figures presented in more formal corporate communications. According to Scott Martin at the Daily Egg, there are a variety of ways to infuse personality into a brand’s social media presence, but the focus should be on authenticity and personality that aligns with your branding efforts. Options range from developing a character like Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World or hiring a celebrity spokesperson to humanizing your CEO or publishing consumer testimonials.

One of the key components to the Social Marketing Compass is emotion/sentiment that brands’ social accounts elicit from customers one of the easiest ways to bring forth those elements is through a social-driven conversation using the brand’s distinct voice. (Graphic Source: Tier 10 Lab: Social Marketing Compass)

Simply utilizing social media as a way to recycle existing content is not doing anyone any favors. The content posted on social media should have a slightly different angle, appeal to a different audience and create a voice for the brand. Rather than simply posting links to existing website content, social media is an opportunity to integrate more creativity and humanize the brand. Jessica Doudrick from PA Media Group cites audience familiarity and quality content as key factors for integrating personality. Understanding who you are targeting, what they want to see and how they want to consume it are all crucial. Another tip Doudrick offers for audience engagement is to post content with questions to encourage conversation with consumers.

After reviewing Martin and Doudrick’s perspective, here are three actionable items that can be implemented quickly for effective social marketing, filled with personality and voice.

1.      Interact Regularly: Frequent interaction with consumers is key, as social media is a dialogue, not a monologue. Consider social presence to be instant and honest feedback from customers about what you’re doing well and where you have opportunities for improvement.

2.      Create Social-Specific Content:  Recycling and linking to existing content is nothing new and gives consumers no reason to follow your social accounts. Provide consumers with information they can’t get elsewhere on your platforms to grab their interest.

3.      Inject Humor and Creativity: No matter the product or services you’re selling, consumers appreciate creative content that makes them laugh, think, or scratch their heads. Don’t underestimate how smart your audience is; they’ll appreciate you keeping them on their toes.

As a social marketer, brand personality is crucial to set your brand apart. It reinforces the brand essence you strive for, gives consumers a reason to keep coming back and can help “create awesome.” In this media landscape, it is undoubtedly important to have a social media presence, but taking that one step further shows that having a distinct personality within that social media space is even more important.

Elizabeth Paige Fierman is a Master of Science Candidate in the Medill School’s Integrated Marketing & Communications program at Northwestern University. A New England native, Elizabeth has experience in collegiate and professional athletics, as well as sports media. She loves hockey, avocados and bright nail polish and can be found on Twitter (@EPFonIMC) and LinkedIn.

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