ViDEO: Does your social media strategy lack character?

tommyismyname
Tommy Walker Online marketing Strategist, tommy.ismy.name

Posted on June 27th 2012

ViDEO: Does your social media strategy lack character?

Nothing looks worse than going to a branded Facebook page or Twitter account with high amounts of fans or followers, and seeing posts that are dull and monotonous with only two or three comments. If you’re going to spend the time to drive to your social media channels, it’s important that you engage these people, not waste their time.

I’ve touched on it when I said brand persona was the #1 secret to brand marketing in social media. I was hinting at it when explaining the importance of being useful.

If you want to stop wasting people’s time and start getting them interested in you… keep reading…

 

Understanding Brand Character

In the last episode we talked about Destroying Images to make way for new media and how that’s improved sales and engagement for other businesses. Before that, we talked about Why Customer Satisfaction matters with Stephen Allen of Zappos.

Today, we’re going to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart, which is Brand Character, the core of your online presence.

Now the way most people go about starting an online business is like this…

You build a website,
Fill it with content
Jump into the social web

Then go uhhhhh….

and your customers go Uhhhh

(cut back and forth between uhhhs)

Until somebody gives up…

(whispers) it’s usually the business…

See most people are so wrapped up in just getting their online business launched that they get lost in the technical details. Technical details like creating the blog, finding a theme, writing content, creating a product, doing keyword research. BUT, The thread that ties it together, makes it cohesive and brings it home for customers tends to get lost in the mix and becomes an afterthought, at best.

And it’s not just small businesses either. Brands like cisco & cheetos have seen this happen before too… more on that in a second.

It’s time to bring Brand Character to the forefront. Brand Character stems from understanding your market so well that your brand starts to actually embody the traits that your customers hope to see in you.

Brand character is an evolution of brand identity. It is more than your logo, typeface, and tagline. It’s what turns a brand into a living, breathing, entity that is allowed to co-exist and interact with real people in a social setting. It is what makes your company “likeable.”

It’s about playing to a particular emotion in your customer and being able to invoke that whenever they see you.

To really assess your own brand character, look at your ideal customers & start asking questions like:

  • How old are they mentally? How do they view themselves?
  • How do they dress?
  • What kind of music do they listen to? Who do they read? Do they read books, magazines or nothing at all?
  • Where do they work? Where do they go to unwind?
  • When do they go online? How often? What websites, other than Facebook, do they visit.
  • How educated are they? What is their highest level of schooling?
  • Are they free-spirited? Do they need to be comforted?
  • What life stage are they in?

The goal of asking and answering questions like these is to create a fleshed out archetype of you’re talking to. In the beginning, It might even be worth clipping magazines to give yourself an actual visual.

If your existing brand character is weak or appealing to the wrong crowd, you can -and must- change it to be relevant again.

Olson Zaltman and Associates had a similar problem when Cheetos needed help redeveloping their Brand Character.

Throughout its 60 year history, Cheetos had advertised to kids and families. Chester Cheetah introduced in 1986, was a real cool cat as long as he had his Cheetos, otherwise he became depraved and a little crazy, and would go to enormous lengths to get his cheetos snacks.

Everything was great until 2007 when other cheese snack competitors started spending more on their ads and the company lost 2% in their household penetration. Their parent company Pepsico signed an agreement that said they would no longer advertise “unhealthy” products to children under 12.

This forced the company  to re-evaluate its 60 year growth strategy and appeal to a new demographic if they wanted to stay relevant.

To say that the risks were enormous would be an understatement.

To up the ante just a little more, the company also had to increase their sales by 6.4%, to make up for lost time.

Olson Zaltman, the firm in charge of re-defining Cheetos brand character, set out on this risky quest by doing something novel: they started talking to the customers.

They interviewed parents, adult non parents, and children aged 10-13  who all ate cheetos at least once a week, to discover what exactly the “Cheetos Experience” was all about.

What they discovered was that both groups felt relatively stressed and anxious in the face of life’s demands but “Consuming Cheetos snacks gives them moments of escape and refuge by inspiring playfulness and mischief.”

Ask yourself questions about your brand like:

  • If my brand were a celebrity, who would they be most like?
  • How would my brand dress?
  • If my brand were a rockstar, what genre of music would they play?
  • How old is my brand mentally?
  • What is my brand’s sense of humor? What comedian would my brand most resemble?

Do these questions seem familiar?

Developing this character gives fans an idea of what to expect and how to behave, not only when interacting with you but with other members of the community. Having a distinct voice sets the tone.

In the case of Cheetos, Olson Zaltman & Associates found that “adults were looking for permission to not act their age and not conform to the expectations of adult behavior.”

That smiles and orange fingers were brandished proudly, like a badge of honor.

The result? :

According to IRI, Cheetos’ sales increased by 11.3%, almost double the target rate of 6.4%

And… their core product, The cheetos you see in the commercial had an increase in sales by 14.4% !

The reason I share this with you is in world where there are 60 hours of youtube video uploaded every minute, 290 million tweets per month, and 4 billion items shared on Facebook every day, your ability to connect with people on a one to one level is the most powerful outlet that you can use to connect with your market and really stand out to them.

Your brand character will influence every aspect of your online marketing strategy, from blog topic ideas to  landing page copy and landing page design.

So tell me, what would an embodiment of your brand look like?

Will you fall into the ranks of the status quo, or are you an innovative alternative?

Please leave your creative or interesting responses in the comments below, or on FacebookTwitter, or Google Plus.

And if you subscribe to “Inside The Mind” via email by going to this link right here, you can be the first to know when the next video comes out AND get exclusive bonus goodies!

tommyismyname

Tommy Walker

Online marketing Strategist, tommy.ismy.name

Tommy is an Online Marketing Strategist and been doing various forms of internet marketing since 2005. His final calling came from being fired over a pair of pants.
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Comments

DarinLHammond
Posted on June 27th 2012 at 11:10PM

Hello there, Tommy,

 

I'm a fellow contributor here, and wanted to let you know that I found your article very useful. I'm not really employing the things you discuss here in my webpage, and I have some ideas now for how to pump it up. Thank you for sharing your insightful ideas. Good luck with everything, and keep on writing. You're doing great!

Darin L. Hammond

Beth Thouin
Posted on June 29th 2012 at 1:49PM

Great post! Question for you: what brand character should a company take on when they have two or more separate audiences?

tommyismyname
Posted on June 29th 2012 at 2:32PM

It's similar to the way we as people work. You might have work friends, going out friends, old friends... etc... The way we act around our different friends comes naturally, but we do it without thinking... so how do we apply that to a made up entity like a brand?

What you want to do in that case is set up a venn diagram of the different audiences and list out the things they find interesting. beyond interests, list out their values, life goals etc... be as specific as possible. 

Eventually, you will find the overlap in your audiences interests and values which is where your brand's character will stem from. 

In your primary communications, you use that central voice, then when you want to be more campaign specific, you drill into the other sides of your "personality" by tapping into the more specific audiences. 

Do you have a specific example I could look at where I can give more detail?