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Navigating the Network

Building A Brand Persona and Plan with Social

I’ve shared recently about the importance of content and creating a brand persona for organizations. A platform that is almost a non-negotiable for businesses to incorporate as part of the marketing mix is social media; it serves as a free, ubiquitous gathering place for a business’ customers and potential customers (and the rest of the world).

Social media serves as a way to promote an organization’s CSR activities in a two-way conversational manner. It is not enough to provide a good product or service; customers want to see the organizations they support are good corporate citizens as well—concerned beyond the shareholder (*1). Customers have adopted a fondness for these social platforms with over 68% of U.S. adults on Facebook, and have even tolerated businesses who foray into the social space, but not without reprioritizing the traditional conversation.

Who is on social? Basically Everyone!

 

A one-way regurgitation of organizational priorities and preferences for customer behavior is no longer sufficient. Customers are demanding authentic relationships with members of their social network, and that includes businesses.

Businesses have to approach SNS with the same seriousness and strategic priority they give to other advertising vehicles. Conversations need to be curated based on customer demographics and audience preferences. Engagement needs to be deeper and measured beyond a simple like, love, share, or retweet. (*2)

While it’s important for a business to be serious about their social efforts, your brand persona doesn’t have to be all business. Use social media as a way to subtly share who you are and what your organization is about, how you make a difference, who you serve, why you are a good partner/trustworthy, etc. Knowing your audience is one of the first steps on that journey. Why would they visit you on social, what kind of content are they looking for, what will resonate with them? Being able to answer these questions is the first step in creating relevant content and establishing a brand voice.

Humor Works—Everyone Likes a Laugh!

 

Another factor organizations have to consider is how should their content or presence differ depending on their target market or the changes happening in their industr
One market that is expanding its influence is millennials. Senior partner at Boston Consulting Group, Christine Barton, shares her perspective on how businesses need to engage with this demographic.

As millennials continue to build their careers and their economic power, these changes will affect every part of the economy,” notes Barton. “You see over time the sectors they are impacting,” she said. “You also see the sectors that see them coming and know that they have to foundationally change their product, or service, or value proposition—and they’re starting to prepare for that.” 3

It seems as though the organizations and organizational leaders who recognized this conversation shift and readily adopted social media for their organization have an easier time of navigating the platforms, trying new engagement techniques and resonating with its consumer. Interestingly enough though, only 40% of Fortune 500 ® CEOs have a presence on social at all. A few other quick facts on CEO use:

  • LinkedIn is the first social channel adopted by CEOs.
  • Only 36 Fortune 500 ® CEOs are on Twitter, and only 25 are active.
  • 11 CEOs from the group are on Instagram.
  • Facebook saw the biggest decline year-over-year. (*3)

 

“Companies would be wise to listen to their customers, and
even competitors, and to begin exploring what a social media presence can and will mean to their industry. It is about engagement. It is about building the brand. And it is about embracing a new, more agile way of doing business…it can be implemented and made to be fun or exciting as this new channel evolves.” (*5)

The organization I work for is in the education sector, with a constituent base that will soon be shifting as we open a high school next year. Parents of two-year-olds differ drastically from parents of high schoolers, and that means our social media presence needs to take into account everything from the mix of ages we represent and how frequently to what platform we are using—cue Snapchat.

One of the trends I’ve noticed in our social media engagement has been a shift away from Facebook with a lot more parents connecting and commenting via Instagram, a platform that is only a few years old for us.

Balancing a voice that is informative but conversational is an equilibrium we are always working to achieve. One of the elements I think would be interesting to try is incorporating humor into our posts. Another big opportunity for us will be differentiating content by platform. Currently, we share a lot of the same content across platforms as managing all the accounts is part of one individual’s job, meaning there is not the opportunity for as much strategic thought and execution as the platform warrants. At the end of the day business goals and resources need to tap into the potential of social to build business, brands, fans, and who knows what else…!

References:

Lipschultz, J. H. (2018). Social media communication: concepts, practices, data, law and ethics. New York, NY: Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group.

Gilstrap, C., & Holderby, N. (2016). “Actually Having Conversations and Talking to People”: Defining Social Media Engagement. The Journal of Social Media in Society, 5(2), 20

Domo. (2016). Domo 2016 Social CEO Report. Retrieved from Domo: https://www.domo.com/learn/2016-social-ceo-report

Anderson, A. S. (2018, March 1). Pew Internet Social Media Use 2018. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Andzulis, P. R. (2012). A Review of Social Media and Implications for the Sales Process. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 305-316.

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