Social media affords organisations many ways in which to build their brand and connect more effectively with consumers for improved outcomes. Social media creates possibilities for organisations to better understand their customers and improve relationships with them, increasing the reputation of the brand. However, social media is something that organisations are still grappling with and not always taking on successfully. There are many basic errors that organisations make that lose them opportunities to build their brand through social media, fundamentally through not engaging with their customers effectively via this critical channel.
Brand building through social media channels should always be based on authenticity. If you are not authentic when using these channels to communicate with customers then customers will become confused about what the brand is and what it stands for. This means having an authentic approach to social media activities and not pretending to be something that you or your company are not. Customers will see through this very quickly. Keeping content suitable for customers by making sure that it is always relevant to them is also critical. This means relevant to them and not just relevant to you. Don’t tell them they should buy more of your product but instead listen to what they are saying and address those points. Listening and understanding what customers want is essential to being able to be relevant to their wants and needs.
Storytelling is an excellent approach to brand building on social media. People love storytelling when it is authentic. This is a good approach through which to engage with customers by weaving a tale that helps customers to be won over to the way that you are thinking. Telling a story helps to shape a message into a style that is appealing for the reader to review.
Writing for Forbes in 2014, Jeanne Meister reports on the case of MasterCard, which first saw social media as a threat, but has since transformed this situation and the organisation now understands how social media can be used for brand building. Overcoming an intense fear that confidential information would be shared online in error, according to Jeanne Meister the organisation took steps to:
“Infuse social and digital media into the organisation so that each MasterCard employee could be excited about being a brand ambassador for MasterCard”.
Jeanne Meister makes four recommendations for using social media for brand building based on learnings from MasterCard. Identifying those employees that already love social media and want to create content for their employer is a very important one of these recommendations. Those that love social media and like creating content for it will have enthusiasm and expertise that can be used to drive results. Training people in social media use to build the brand is also important as there is a distinct difference between making postings and making postings that will build the organisation’s brand. MasterCard offered “Social Media Training 101” to its employees, and at the current time more than 40% of the organisation’s employees are what MasterCard refers to as “Social Ambassadors” for the organisation. Having metrics to measure what you are doing is important to make sure that the activity is not aimless and that goals are being met. Finally, MasterCard included everyone in its organisation from different departments such as human resources, legal, IT and public relations. This means that postings made from its Social Ambassadors are derived from a wide range of different perspectives.
A big no-no of brand building on social media is posting too much. People do not want their news feeds to be cluttered up with continuous updates from your business. This is true even if your points are relevant, authentic and told in the style of a very interesting story. The thing is that you can easily overdo it. The simple fact of the matter is that if you over post stories and comments you will turn the consumer off very quickly. There are easy ways in which consumers can hide your updates from their feed. Alternatively they will just “unlike” or “unfollow” your business so that they no longer have to be overwhelmed with your postings. It’s a fine balance that has to be achieved but getting it right will avoid you from turning customers off from your brand.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.