Brands often come to us because their efforts to build a relatable and meaningful social media presence have stalled out or flat out failed.
Our job in these cases is to understand the state of their current online presence, identify opportunities and create a path toward social media success. The obvious first step is an audit of their profiles and channels. (We’ll discuss that process more in depth in a later post.)
The not so obvious second step is a “Social Voice” or “Social Branding” workshop that lays the foundation for every campaign, ad, blog post, visual content piece and status update the company will produce.
Without this step:
The strategy and tactics will be inconsistent
The audience will be confused and lose interest
The momentum and energy of the Page will make it miserable to manage
It will be hard to gain followers and keep engagement high
Most importantly… the messaging will be lost
I’ve come to recognize this as an identity crisis that most clients don’t even know their brand’s are having. As with real life people, an digital brand identity crisis can create a host of issues when it comes to relating to the world.
Who am I?
How do I express myself?
What is important to me?
What or who do I align myself with?
Years ago when I was crafting strategy for The Roxy Theatre, I realized that traditional branding was not robust enough to define who The Roxy was on the digital landscape. The brand had to have a personality that was beyond the pink neon of the rocking “R” logo outside the club.
It needed something more… human.
I began to think of The Roxy as a person. Who are its friends? What kind of music does it like? What age and temperament reflect the real soul of the venue? As I asked these questions I also began to see that not only were these important to our audience, but also potential partners, the press and our vendors.
Our reputation online would be judged by who we associate or partner with, what content we post and how we respond to the public, publically.
Ultimately, we determined that the club was in its early 20′s, male and similar in personality to its owner, Nic Adler. It was popular because it was accessible and friendly, never engaging in politics or divisive topics. The Roxy was positive, respectful, kind, a hardcore music lover (especially rock), and abstained from cursing or other insulting language.
This definition played a large role in helping The Roxy achieve nearly 500K Facebook Page Likes, 130K+ Twitter followers and high engagement. Not bad for a 500 person capacity music venue on the Sunset Strip.
The benefits of defining a “voice” are invaluable. They ensure a seamless and reliable experience. As untrusted as people of fluctuating character may be, so too are social brands who constantly change their voice.
A multitude of traits goes into the creation of the social voice. These are not easy revelations or low-hanging fruit. They require soul-searching and in-depth analysis of what motivates a company and who they wish to be.
I tell my clients the workshop is like therapy. As with individuals, companies fall into daily routines and don’t take the time to reflect and question who they are or what they want to communicate. The result is confusing messaging and a confused audience because the company itself is confused.
In the world of social media, brands are expected to be part of the conversation, respond to inquiries, produce original content and engage their fans. Lack of a voice will make any social strategy feel like it’s sinking in quicksand. No matter how hard you try, you aren’t going anywhere.
To get out of the quicksand and on a fast track you must know who you are. This means looking inward to determine your unique and authentic voice. Not who you think you should be or what you think others want from you… but who you really, authentically are. This includes identifying who you are to your employees, vendors and customers or clients.
A few of the questions I use to help a brand team determine who they are:
Are you an elite and exclusive company or friendly and accessible one?
What is your sense of humor? (South Park or The Office? Modern Family or New Girl?)
What do you value in your clients or customers?
What do your employees say about the company and what it’s like to work there?
- Does your identity like food, sports or travel?
These questions touch on a variety of possible personality traits. Some may not seem relevant to a company but I assure you they are. It is important to keep in mind that you are building a personality, not a slogan or logo. Personalities have many layers and interests, and engage with other complex personalities. The more you know about your personality the better you can communicate effectively with your audience, determine content to create and publish, and choose digital partners.
These answers will not fully define the persona you are in search of, but they are the starting point on the path to finding yourself. Brand executives need to answer these questions with absolute genuineness. Inauthentic personas come under fire quickly in the social world.
Stick to who you are, what you know best. It’s why your audience is coming to you. Give them someone to relate to and they will be loyal evangelists and carry your message. Before you know it your social media will be fun to manage and effective in engaging your community.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to determine your brand voice, or for a free initial consultation, please contact me! kyra[at]adlerintegrated.com