At a glance, brand management on social media looks simple. All you need to do is set up a Facebook or a Twitter account, call it after the name of your company/product and use it to aid your corporate entity's branding.
However, as the experiences of many marketing campaigns show, handling your brand image on social media goes far beyond sticking its logo to a Pinterest page.
On the one hand, there are certain pitfalls to watch out for. On the other hand, following brand management best practices will help you maximize the return on your SMM efforts.
The 3 pillars of brand management on social
As per the brand management guide we published some time ago, the three essential principles of any branding strategy include: uniqueness, positivity and consistency.
In other worlds, one needs to manage their brand online in such a way that:
- It stands out among other brands
- It's associated with something positive
- It doesn't sink into oblivion once your Christmas promo campaign is over
How exactly do you stick to all three principles?
1. Find your social media voice
Even though I had written about finding one's unique voice myself, I still consider the subject a bit of a grey area. That's because sometimes this type of advice doesn't go beyond "be different from the other guy".
So, what does finding your social media voice mean exactly? How different can one sound than any other brand, say, on Twitter or Pinterest?
As a company, you must have already decided on your unique selling proposition (USP) and how it should be incorporated into your bigger branding plan. Most likely, you have already defined what traits make your brand stand out.
So, whatever you do on social media should be in line with your brand's characteristics in order for it to have integrity.
For example, comparethemarket.com - the company best known for its Compare The Meerkat promo campaign - has a Facebook page that's a logical continuation of their branding strategy.
If you look for "compare the market on Facebook", what comes up first is not the company's corporate page with just 235 likes, but the one "owned" by Alexandr Orlov, the meerkat - with 807K likes. On Facebook, the meerkat even writes in the same manner in which he talks in videos!
Other things you can do to raise brand awareness on social media are:
- Brand your channel properly using the real estate it offers to remind the followers about your brand
- Use a branded URL shortner
- Brand your images as you share them on social media (not a must, but it still helps build brand awareness)
2. Be the Good Guy
Now, being the good guy on social media doesn't mean that you can't allow any criticism or negative feedback to appear on your Facebook page, or Twitter, etc.
What this means is that the sum total of the negativity and the positivity associated with your brand should have a positive balance. And the bigger this surplus, the better.
One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is:
- Ignore negative feedback
- Respond to negative feedback by being negative
- Lie or be elusive while trying to come out of a conflict
Experienced online marketers know that any conflict is a gateway to asserting the positive image of your brand - if you know how to handle it masterfully. However, if you just ignore it, this will render all other effort you make as an SMM manager futile.
For example, what's the point of announcing a contest on Facebook, if you are just going to let any negative comments slide (like Sprint did):
Another set of potential dangers lies in covering sensitive topics or asking your audiences the wrong kind of question.
Over the years, there had been many 9/11-themed tweets and image uses that incurred backlash from the community. The topic is particularly sensitive, and anyone attempting a 9/11 post must make sure it's completely devoid of any dubiousness AND doesn't exploit the topic for promotion in any way.
As Bryan Joiner tweeted:
Speaking of asking the wrong kind of question, this normally concerns instances when brands feel moved to ask their followers how the latter feel about the brand's products.
Now, unless you're absolutely positive that the quality of your products or services is immaculate, asking this kind of question is likely a bad idea.
3. Be as predictable as a Swiss watch
Last but not least, is the consistency principle one should adhere to when promoting a brand on social media. To cut a positive image for your brand, your SMM efforts should be consistent.
Sometimes, this is challenging to achieve, especially if your social media managers or marketing strategy change. But there is a way to go about it without losing your followers' credibility.
(Also consider getting social media publishing guidelines in case your social media manager changes in the future)
- Be only where you can be regularly
It is usually not a brilliant idea to get a Pinterest account just for the heck of it. If you are not going to be posting there on a regular basis, your followers will get disappointed in you - and the brand you represent. For instance, who wants to see a Facebook post with just spam in comments:
- Let people know what to expect from you
It is equally important to be consistent about the kind of posts you create. For example, Guy Kawasaki is one of the top tweeps whose posts are a predictable mix of wise quotes, science news, geek fun, social life, politics and, of course, online marketing.
This could actually be the secret behind his popularity - he is expectedly eclectic.
Summing it up
To sum this up, I'd like to say that, most importantly, for your social marketing efforts to help brand promotion, marketing and sales, it has to be an organic extension of those things.
Hence, make sure that everything you do on social media is relevant to the goal you're trying to achieve through branding, adds to your brand's value and spread positive awareness.
Happy brand management on social media!