Member Insights by HART
You used to be able to gain traction in the marketplace just by repeating your brand message. Those days are long gone. Today’s best brands gain traction by positioning themselves as an expert, friend, partner, collaborator and resource.
An important element of this type of marketing is relationship building. And to build a relationship, you need more than “authority in the marketplace”; you need the proper tone, personality, likability, trust (all perceived qualities) and constant reinforcement.
Social media is ideally suited to influence these consumer perceptions and deliver this reinforcement. Every time consumers encounter your brand in their newsfeed or a socially influenced Google search, it’s an opportunity to shape brand perception. The trouble is many don’t know how or where to start.
Let’s look at five ways to improve your brand perception with social media.
- Showcase your brand values. This may seem evident and elementary, but creating a set of brand values is extremely important, not only to the overall success of your brand, but also to your ability to communicate effectively via social media. We’re often surprised at how many marketers shortcut this step in favor of a “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach. We could spend an entire post talking about brand values, but for the purpose of this topic, we’ll simply say that, whether those values revolve around product attributes (e.g., high quality), less tangible aspects of your operations (e.g., sustainability) or something else altogether, make sure everyone associated with your brand knows how those values relate to your key stakeholders and emphasizes them consistently across all social channels.
- Build trust. Trust is part of the foundation of every relationship, right? According to PwC’s Consumer Insights Survey (2018), 14% of respondents put “Trust” as their No. 1 reason for choosing a retailer. “Trust in brand” was the second most frequently cited reason for purchase decisions. But consumers are viewing businesses as less and less trustworthy each day. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that only 48% of the U.S. population trusts business as an institution (a 10-point drop from 2017). On social media in particular, there are always people watching, monitoring what brands say they will do and quick to call out a brand for everything they aren’t doing. So, be transparent. Let people know you have nothing to hide. Hold yourself accountable. When things go wrong, acknowledge the cause(s) and clarify the details of the situation. Follow throughon your promises. Every time your brand keeps a promise, you build trust and create positive brand equity. If you don’t, you lose it. It’s that simple.
- Show interest in people. Social media has conditioned us to tell the world what we’re doing and what we’re thinking all the time. But if brands are only trying to be heard, who is doing the listening? While everyone is trying to be interesting, who is interested? One of social media’s biggest benefits is the ability it gives us to connect and engage. So, do it. Spend more time creating relationships with those who care about your brand than updating your status. Be genuinely useful, helpful and likeable. Respond to as many comments and questions as you can.When a consumer reaches out, demonstrate that you hear and care about those comments. And remember, by showing an interest in others, you are creating an opportunity for them to get to know you better, too.
- Be consistent. Consistency is one of the most important yet overlooked elements in social media marketing. Strong, consistent messaging reinforces your identity and drives positive sentiment and brand perceptions. This doesn’t mean all of your communications should be identical, but it does mean your key messaging and visual branding should be clearly identified. And consumers should be able to feelyour brand’s personality, regardless of the platform they find you on. All brands have a personality, and it’s the marketer’s responsibility to ensure it’s reflected throughout all channels.
Consider Wendy’s, who’s brand voice can best be described as “sassy.” Across all social media channels, Wendy’s carries through that fun, don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously approach to content. And the method has worked, with Wendy’s racking up 3.2 million Twitter followers and high engagement rates. It’s a great example to follow for a consistent voice.
- Use and promote images and video. Ultimately, the more likes and shares your brand has, the more potential it has to reach a wider audience, and visuals work particularly well on social media for generating interaction. The Content Marketing Institute notes that posts on Facebook with images get 2.3 times more engagement, and on Twitter, photos can boost retweets by 34%. But, for real engagement, video reigns supreme. On Facebook alone video posts get at least 59% more engagement than other post types and marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than nonusers. One of the gold standards of a brand using video is Dollar Shave Club. Its launch video went viral and has been viewed more than 26 million times. The video was funny while showcasing its brand voice and product. The success of the video helped Dollar Shave Club grow to become a $1 billion company.
This article was originally published on April 8, 2015, and has since been updated.