Social networking has brought a bunch of benefits for business branding, but disadvantages exist as well. One of the main difficulties is maintaining a consistent image, especially when you have an online presence 24/7 to deal with. It’s easy when you’re under pressure to react too quickly, post off-the-cuff messages that aren’t well thought out and sometimes put your foot in your proverbial mouth.
If you have a strong social media persona, however, you can probably weather the resulting storm better than most. Here’s how to present the right company image in your social media marketing so that when lightning strikes, recovery is possible.
Develop a Distinctive Voice
You need to present your company’s personality as consistently as possible using a distinctive “voice.” Take Coca-Cola, for example. The company is universally viewed as having a fun, compassionate approach to life. It wouldn’t use a tone that’s formal and business-like in its communications. Likewise, a bank might come across as dependable, but it’s unlikely to be fun-filled.
Evaluate how you want your customers to view your business and develop a voice that fits with your personality, then make sure you use it across all your communications. This is particularly difficult if you have several people writing your social media marketing and blog posts, but if you have one person overseeing the process you can ensure consistency.
Create a 2-Way Communication Street
Communicating on social media needs to be a two-way street. Instead of chest-thumping about how great your company, products or services are, invite commentary from others. Let your customers be a large part of your voice, instead of doing it yourself. When they say good things, use those to your best advantage.
When they trash you, take the opportunity to show how well you rally the troops to address their woes. Open and maintain a public dialogue with the complainants, deal with the issue and telling the world that you’ve done so. If you can develop a reputation for transparency in your communications it will stand you in good stead during times when you slip up.
Keep Messages Relevant
You can’t operate in a vacuum. It’s great to stay on message when you can, but if something big is happening you need to be flexible enough to divert your attention and reference it or you’ll look like you have your head in the sand. That doesn’t mean being irreverent, necessarily, but simply acknowledging what’s going on around you.
When there’s a heavy storm causing devastation across the mid-west, for example, don’t ignore it and cheerfully post about the day’s special offer. Tell your customers in the region you’re thinking of them. Post a hope for their safety and the storm’s speedy departure, and forget your product message for the day. It will win you more points than you could ever score by posting a promotional social media marketing message.
Stick To a Main Principle
Aiming for consistency in messaging can result in a series of boring pronouncements if you aren’t careful. Rather, identify the main principle governing your communications and base your messaging loosely around that, which will deliver a form of “cohesion” with enough variety in it to prevent monotony. Coca-Cola again, for example, is all about happiness and sharing. It focuses its messaging on that main principle, ranging from imagery of people sharing a Coke with friends to enjoying an ice-cold Coke at the lake house during summer. The images invoke happy occasions and resonate with customers far more than consistent product or brand messaging would.
Presenting the right image through your social media marketing will help you to soar in the good times and dance in the rain in the bad times. It’s all about identifying the personality you want to portray and focusing on building your communications around that.