Ever since social media started gaining popularity, it’s been a fixation for the business world. Major corporate brands jumped on the idea of interacting with their customers directly in an online environment, and emerging entrepreneurs couldn’t wait to claim their profiles and hope for an explosive growth of followers.
Now that the dust has settled and the idea of social media marketing is seen more as a competent strategy than a fleeting trend, brands are trying to find the perfect balance for their social interactions. In online communications, brands must present themselves in a way that cultivates positive attitudes, increases user engagement, and ultimately results in a more memorable experience for each audience member involved.
Whether you’re building a brand from the ground up or adjusting your current brand standards for an online interaction environment, be sure to include these seven critical qualities of social brands:
1. Trustworthy. One of your highest priorities in a social brand should be cultivating a sense of trust in your user base. In today’s marketplace, people are hyper-aware of when they’re being sold to, and they’ll be quick to tune out the messaging of any brand they feel is being manipulative or deceitful.
In order to build trust with your audience, you have to post information and material that isn’t specifically designed to push your products and services. Instead, aim to communicate directly with your users, and in ways they’ll find to be valuable (we’ll get into more detail on that later). You’ll also need to ensure the accuracy and sincerity of your messages. If your intentions are doubted, or if you present information that is deceptive, you could quickly tarnish your reputation. Trust on social media, just like in real life, takes a long time to build, so be patient and consistent in your efforts.
2. Personal. Too many companies have made the mistake of posting general messages on their social platforms, forgetting that their end goal is to reach human beings through those messages. If your posts sound robotic, formulaic, or overly wordy, it’s going to be clear to your user base that you’re phoning it in. The most successful social brands are the ones that are personal.
The easiest way to add personality to your brand on social media is to simply forget about the fact that you’re writing for a brand. Write from your own mind, in a way that you would speak if you were talking to a friend in person. Of course, each company’s brand will require different voice standards and you may have to make some adjustments for formality, but this strategy will get you started in a much more personal direction. When people read your words on social media, they should think “person” first, and “corporation” second, not the other way around. This humanizes your brand, which is essential for improving trust, traffic, and conversion rates.
3. Unique. There are thousands of companies online in your industry, most of which are directly competing with you over the favoritism of the same pool of social media users. In order to beat them out and get the largest audience share, you’ll need to be the most attractive candidate — but in order to do that, you’ll first need to stand out from the crowd.
Finding a unique slant for your business might seem difficult at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Think about what makes your business unique — if not better — than other businesses. Think about what personality traits your brand could have that no competitor could replicate. Infuse your brand voice with new personality quirks and unique charms that will make your users’ social media experience memorable and distinct. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of being just another drop in the bucket.
4. Caring. The most successful social brands are ones that cultivate an environment where followers are excited to communicate with the brand. In order to establish such an environment, brands must let users know that they are heard and that they are valued.
The best way to show that your brand cares about your users is to listen to them individually. When someone posts a lengthy inquiry on your social profile, give them a unique, personal response that restates their question and addresses it fully. You can also call out to your users, asking for their thoughts and opinions on your brand’s latest materials. Do whatever it takes to prove to your users that you care about their thoughts and opinions.
5. Responsive. The other quality essential to creating an environment where users willingly responds and engage is responsiveness. When you enter the social world, commit to responding to every inquiry and post made on your profile, no matter how small or insignificant they seem. If a user’s comment goes unnoticed or unacknowledged, you can bet on that user never wanting to comment on your page again. On the other hand, if a new user comes to your page and sees that every comment generates a response, he/she will be far more likely to post.
There is one caveat to this quality; all your responses must be unique. You can’t depend upon a handful of pre-written, automated responses to handle the majority of your inquiries. Instead, it’s better to address each individually.
6. Authoritative. In addition to seeming trustworthy, your brand must be viewed as authoritative in the scope of your specific industry. Otherwise, people won’t want to subscribe to your updates, and they’ll go somewhere else for the most recent or most accurate information.
Building yourself as an authority in the field is going to take time, but the best way to get started is to read industry news as often as possible, become informed and up-to-speed on as many issues as you can, then publish informed updates, articles, and guest blog posts often. You can make headway as a thought leader by posting new opinions or making new comments about recent developments.
7. Valuable. Finally, in order to succeed as a social brand, you’ll need to be valuable to your users. This should go without saying, but if you want your users to come back to you, you’ll need to offer them something that they want. This value doesn’t have to be monetary — it can be intangible, in the form of highly informative updates — but it should definitely compel users to come back for more.
One of the most common ways to build this value is to offer free promotions, such as giveaways or discounts, that are exclusive to your social followers. Coupon codes and other deals are also popular. Your bottom line here is to make it worth your users’ while, however you see fit.
Building a social brand isn’t a one-time process. It’s going to take months of observation, assessment, and refinement before you start perfecting your brand voice and strategy. Learn from your most successful and least successful interactions, and gradually incorporate more traits and habits that generate better results.
Like with any marketing strategy, social media marketing demands periodic adjustment. The better you get to know your users, the better you’ll be able to engage them. In the meantime, you can use these baseline qualities to give your brand a jumpstart in the social media world.