Social media was once seen as “chatter”, to be avoided by businesses, but now everyone is talking about it. Because of social media, brand communication is no longer a one way street; it is now a highway with hundreds of lanes.
Even though the concept of social media is seen as new, it has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. A caveman painting a picture on the inside of a cave was his own way of ‘spreading’ his message, fast forward to the modern era and sharing an updates is our very own version of the cave painting. Modern brands need to embrace how communication is changing and incorporate this into their attitudes and culture. Social can be effectively used to build a brands personality and manage their reputation.
Some brands use social media as just another way to push sales of their product or service, broadcasting their message but failing to engage with their fans and followers. Social media is not a sales machine, it is a communications channel. Social can help to connect and ingratiate brands with consumers. When people are comfortable with a brand, they are more likely to spend money with them. Brands that only push their products or services will always struggle to win over potential customers. As soon as a brand starts talking about selling, they can’t listen to what their audience has to say, which leads to customers and potential customers switching off.
Many brands create social competitions to attract new fans or followers, but without ongoing engagement fan numbers drop as soon as the competitions have concluded. Buying loyalty lasts as long as the competition lifecycle. Building relationships on social channels is more important so that you can build trust, earn loyalty and advocacy, which will eventually turn into sales.
You have to be patient, social is not the quick fix that some people think it is.
Social media is people media, regardless of their influencer scores or number of followers. There are certain hashtags you can use to get your tweets RT’d like there’s no tomorrow, but that in itself does not make you influential, no matter what your Klout score says. Similarly, large followings consisting of followbacks and bought followers count for very little, and miss the purpose of being on social media. Your new ‘fans’ aren’t going to say a word to you, nor will they have friends of their own to talk about you to, so your channels are going to be like a baron wasteland. Invest the time in actually building relationships with your audience.
For inspiration take a look at British Airways. They are one of a few examples of good social media practice simply due to their level of consistency, transparency in their communications, and tone of voice. They share what they think their audience want to see and read, and I think they’ve got it spot on. Getting the tone of voice is key for any brand, and BA have done this by ensuring all messages and graphics are in line with their brand objectives.