Branding Do’s and Don’ts: How to Finesse Your Brand’s Voice in the Age of Social Media
A new normal in business has emerged as the pandemic affected the industry in profound ways. Previously just an option in some companies, working from home has now become the default.
Today, meetings happen not in conference rooms, but in video chat rooms; and collaboration tools have become the primary site for managing projects. In all these, technology is the common denominator. However, its use goes beyond internal operations, extending to reaching out to customers.
The Digital Bridge
Now more than ever, social media are the platforms that connect you with the public you can’t see face-to-face. In a pandemic wherein everyone goes online for information and has more time scrolling through their Facebook timelines, this technology has become an indispensable part of strengthening a business's digital presence.
In this matter, social media branding is key. You don’t want to be like anyone else in the online world. Instead, you want to stand out from the crowd, from your competitors, so you can get new customers and provide better communications to your existing ones.
To pull this off, what you need is a strong voice, a distinct style of communication that can only be attributed to your brand. With these best practices, you can create a unique brand voice for your content.
Below are some do’s and don'ts to observe in developing your social media branding voice, along with questions to ponder on with your team:
1. Do know your personality.
The uniqueness of your voice comes from the uniqueness of your brand’s personality. It’s similar to how a motivational speaker uses encouraging language or how a bossy colleague makes a demanding instruction. Personality gives color to your voice. This is why it’s important to know who you really are as a brand.
One of the best social media branding examples in this case is the communication style of popular fruit-flavored candy Skittles. Colorful and playful, their social media communications are full of witty jokes, puns, and amusing trivias, like this. It resonates with their audience, with fans replying with laughing emojis and riding on their humor.
Follow the same principle. When branding in the age of social media, harp on your brand’s distinct character to bring out its voice.
Ask your team: If our brand were a person, how would they talk?
2. Don’t forget your culture.
Aside from brand personality, it’s the culture of your organization that would make your social media branding voice distinctive, precisely because it carries your story. Tell that to your audience. Take them through what’s happening inside your team.
Retail brand Target does a great job at this, featuring the lives of their employees on their Facebook page. In this example, they celebrated with their graduating team members. While in this post, they republished a customer’s employee appreciation. All these lend a face to their brand.
Remember, the role of social media in branding is to give your company a human touch, something your audience can relate to.
Ask your team: What’s our story? What do we stand for?
3. Do envision what kind of relationship you want to develop with your customers.
It’s easier to develop a strong social media branding voice when you think about who you want to be, in connection with your target audience. This is why it’s worth revisiting not only your identity or core values, but also your vision and mission statements. All these three are key ingredients in answering the pressing question of what branding is and how it would help you as an organization.
Learn from beauty brand Sephora which established the voice of being a coach, giving excellent advice with its #ProTip tweets. Calm, the meditation app, sounds like that friend who always cheers you up and has the right words to say at the right moment. Follow the same brand strategy examples.
Ask your team: If our brand were a person, what’s their relationship like with their customers?
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin on all social media channels.
Your budget for social media branding is limited. Even if you’re allotting huge resources for digital marketing, it won’t be smart to be on all social media channels available out there. Remember, one of the key branding strategies that makes people highly engaged is focusing on platforms that are already popular among your target audience.
It wouldn’t make sense to pour your efforts and resources into LinkedIn when you’re catering to Gen Z; or on the flip side, Pinterest for Baby Boomers.
Snapchat and Tiktok may prove more effective for the former, and Facebook for the latter. Use LinkedIn to attract the best talents and partners in town, Instagram to pull in aesthetics fanatics, and YouTube to create an educational channel for your business (via how-to videos showcasing your products and services).
In short, consider the preferences of your target audience when brainstorming which channels to focus on and how to create a brand identity.
Ask your team: Which social media platforms do our audience use?
5. Do use the language your customers speak.
Customers remember the brand that speaks their lingo. As much as you’re very intentional about learning which social media channels they’re in, make an effort to learn their language, too. Don’t confuse it with jargons, unless you’re in a highly technical industry. Be discerning with slangs. If you want to talk their talk, listening to them should be part of your brand strategy framework.
Take for example fast food restaurant Wendy’s. Knowing the “savagery” of people on Twitter, in terms of posting mean comments, Wendy’s has taken to roasting, spitting tweets that served a “double shade burger” since 2017. Suffice it to say, people loved it. Their brand became the talk of the town for days. Until now, they’re viewed as the ultimate roaster on Twitter.
If you embrace the language your customers use, you’ll start to appreciate the importance of social media branding in relation to greater awareness and recall.
Ask your team: How do our customers speak? How do customers describe our products or services?
6. Don’t ignore competitors.
You will learn two things when you look at competitors’ social media branding voice: what they’re doing well and what they could be doing better. In both cases, you can churn something out for innovation in your own brand image-building efforts.
Pay attention to the following when analyzing your competitors’ social media branding:
- Most used words
- Frequently published topic posts
- Replies to customers
- Unique selling point
Ask your team: How can we be better than our competitors, in terms of social media communications?
7. Do strive for authenticity.
In this context, authenticity means being true to the aforementioned key ingredients: your brand identity, core values, and mission-vision.
When people see that your communications aren’t aligned with these, distrust will surely happen. All the years you spent on those stages of brand building could be reversed. As such, create guidelines for your social media image; so you can stay consistent through and through.
Dollar Shave Club is one good social media branding example of authenticity. All these years, their communications–funny, sarcastic, bordering on not-safe-for-work–have been geared towards helping customers “look, feel, and shave like a million bucks.”
Ask your team: What’s our core values?
8. Don’t overlook who you aren’t.
All the previous tips refer to what it takes to build an ideal brand: who you are, ultimately. Part of that perfect image, however, is knowing who you are not, as well.
Perhaps your brand is very professional but not stiff. Maybe you’re funny but not irreverent. Or, you’re probably friendly but not clingy. Clear distinctions, like these, can prove beneficial to your overall social media branding framework and design.
Ask your team: Who are we not?
In the era of social distancing, social media are a necessary tool for reaching your target audience. Simply put, they’re there. Cooped up at home, they want to be informed and entertained. Use your unique social media branding voice to address those needs and be heard in the midst of content noise.
Guest post courtesy of Roger Gallager