Have you felt your social media posts stagnate? Perhaps you are embarking on your company’s social media journey for the first time. Properly engaging your followers can be tough for businesses, especially established companies. Part of the issue is knowing how to walk the line between maintaining your professionalism while engaging on a personal level. You have to decide where on this line you walk before building your social media strategy.
Riot Games is a major video game company that errs on the side of professionalism. They routinely hold art and animation contests, then proudly display the best works on their website. The personal aspect they tackle through their forums, where moderators are allowed some freedom to flex their personalities.
On the flip side, some of the biggest corporations tell jokes and reach out to individuals to create a unique, laid back relationship with their demographic. Take Newcastle Brown Ale, which routinely lampshades its own marketing efforts:
The examples in this post are just neat ways companies develop a personality. There is no tried and true method. You just need to be yourself. Still, we offer these tips on how to reach out and nab your target demographic:
Provide industry tips. A great social media tactic for businesses is to throw out a Tweet or Facebook post with a random factoid or tidbit. A car manufacturer may give tips on staying safe on slick roads during December, while a clothing designer might gush what designs are trending. This establishes you as a company that knows the market, knows the trends, and in some cases is defining the current trend. This is a nice move that boosts professionalism.
Get personal. The Skittles Twitter account is known for being pretty laid back. They often post random quips using puns, play on words, and sometimes just randomness to poke fun at big business.
The Applebee’s Twitter is a long string of the music currently playing on their Pandora radio. A music playlist is a professional idea. It does not necessarily engage the audience, but it gives people a reason to follow an account. DiGiorno, on the other hand, throws professionalism into the air and dives straight for their target customers. Their account reminds me of a first-year college student:
All of these accounts work well for their demographics. Skittles can be as silly as they want since the William Wrigley Jr. Company just sells candy. Applebee’s, a family restaurant, needs to market very differently than DiGiorno. Do you think they were successful at capturing the spirit of their demographics?
Join the chatter. The worst thing you can do is fail to respond in a timely manner to your company’s social media accounts. Getting direct attention from a company quickly builds loyalty in your customers, even in a hastily-written tweet:
Or this blatant and hilarious reference to hipsters:
Even worse is failing to provide a quick response to criticism, constructive or otherwise. Taco Bell is another company known for acting laid back online, but their tweets are professional when confronted with an issue:
Engaging customers directly on social media allows you to throw off the professionalism a tad more. Think of mirroring techniques in sales.
Nurture free publicists. Your strongest advocates are your greatest ally. I remember in college when a Chipotle opened forty minutes away from my school. Every Sunday, five of my friends would drive an hour and a half for burritos. They posted about Chipotle at least three times a week. Those were true loyalists.
There are people out there who absolutely love your brand. Already in the habit of posting every detail of their lives, it just takes a couple of direct interactions before you are a part of their daily broadcast.
Take some time and really scour your social media accounts and relevant hashtags. Some people style themselves as amateur critics of your industry. For instance, painters and home remodelers may often tweet about certain lines of paint they love (or hate!). Out of the active “product testers” out there, some have huge followings. 67% of people are more likely to buy products from brands they follow, while 79% are more likely to recommend your company to someone else.
Use multimedia. Videos and links are highly sharable, often retweeted, and consumed at a staggering rate. Tweets are engaged twice as often when it contains an image link versus one that does not. Hashtags also double the amount, but research shows using less hashtags are better. Facebook posts with photos are definitely more appealing because they are immediately viewable.
You are not limited to images. Infographics are great when you are running an information-heavy new campaign. Facts are easier to memorize when reading infographics and people are more likely to pay attention all the way to the end. Think new product launches or PR campaigns. Videos excel at delivering product information, how-to videos, and more. Home Depot has a video page devoted to showing their customers how to use their products. They opt for professionalism in most of their social media accounts. They stay relevant by providing information their customers will find useful or interesting.
Stay consistent. The most important rule that overrides everything else is you must have a consistent personality across all of your accounts. Nothing will destroy the illusion of your personality faster than shifting attitudes, wording, and tone of voice.
There are demographic considerations at play when choosing a personality. Ask yourself these questions, choose a path, and make sure you stick with it.
- Does your language portray your product and demographic?
- If your brand was a person, how old would they be?
- Does the brand identify strongly with gender or should it remain neutral?
- Do your accounts talk in a certain dialect, use specific jargon, or identify with certain jokes?