The introduction of social media was revolutionary. It connected people in unprecedented ways, and allowed companies to bypass mad men and their agencies and go straight to the customer. But as easy as it may seem to use social media as a branding tool, it's more complicated than it may seem.
According to a new report, titled "3 Strategies to Strengthen Your Brand's Social Voice," from Sprout Social, "Given the (seemingly) lighthearted nature and subtle nuances of the social media marketplace, some brands' social voice strategies could play on par with a scrappy 140-character count. Yet simply because you publish according to character limits, ?le types and ?ckle formats does not guarantee your tactics present a consistent and compelling social voice."
That's right, social media sites aren't just fun platforms to post photos and tell your customers what's happening at your office. It's a powerful tool. "The time to treat social marketing and engagement planning lightly has passed; the creation of an online brand identity and social voice strategy is no longer a nicety," according to the study.
With that in mind Sprout laid out three strategies to help brands:
"Clearly & Concisely Personify Your Brand"
Sounds easy, right? Well, if it was, you wouldn't need someone to tell you how to do it. Too many companies many companies - especially small companies that may not have a big branding initiative - make the mistake of presenting a schizophrenic public persona on social media.
According to the Sprout report, "So why do many businesses still routinely, and sometimes hastily, throw team members (often interns or junior associates) head ?rst into social community management? Often they have little to no understanding of how the voice they project will positively-or negatively-affect the greater business."
The power of social media had evolved beyond the intern's desk, and it's important to put professional marketers in charge.
"Be Open & Responsive - But Stay Classy"
The best thing - and perhaps the most confounding thing - about social media is the two-way communication. Your customers can contact you to complain or gush about your services with almost no effort. But they can also broadcast their message to the masses, and if you don't handle that well, you can end up with a PR nightmare on your hands. For that matter, it's easy to create your own PR disaster on social media.
Sprout's advice: "It is easy to get caught up in the moment and react to news, opinions and trivial social commentary, especially within or around your brand category. While it is important to pay attention and engage with the world around you, quick reactions and dives into questionable conversations may lead to unwanted attention for your brand. Even with an agreed upon brand voice, it is important to ensure published content stays on track and conversations continued by social managers are on message."
"Be Consistent & Refine in Real Time"
As platforms proliferate and the conversation becomes more global, your social media team is likely to grow and change-which makes it hard to stay on message and consistent in your brand voice, but it's still important that you try.
The advice from Sprout on this one harkens back to that first strategy. The report says, "As teams grow and players rotate, standards should include key points and phrases as well as guidelines for the type and tone of social media content. If you ensure that everyone is in agreement about your brand's voice, it will help alleviate questions or concerns about social conversations and who manages what content."