Social media marketing has proved that it’s not going anywhere. Budget growth for social media marketing is a particularly exciting proof of this fascination: between 2014 and 2016, budgets nearly doubled worldwide from $16 billion to $31 billion. As businesses scramble to get some skin in the game, one of the questions often asked is: how do you keep your brand’s voice consistent across this ever-growing landscape of different platforms? Each of these platforms has its own personality, and yet somehow, a successful brand’s voice has to shine through. In my view, companies with these sorts of qualms are looking at it the wrong way—if properly used, social media platforms can actually help a business define its brand voice. With that in mind, let’s have a look at four elements that will help a brand find its voice.
A brand shouldn’t just be something dreamed up in a conference room. But many small businesses don’t necessarily have the funds to conduct meaningful focus groups to get feedback on their brand voice. Here’s where social media platforms come in. If your content provokes engagement, your social media accounts can provide an invaluable wealth of customer feedback via user engagement. Seeing the way customers interact with a brand through Facebook comments or Twitter replies can tell a company so much about its brand voice—in ways that an internal brainstorming session never could. Even silence can tell you a lot—if nobody is engaging with you, it’s a sure sign that your brand voice needs some tinkering.
The very thing people fear about marketing (diluting their brand through multiple social media channels) is actually an asset, in my opinion. First off though, I want to recognize that the concern about consistency is legitimate. It can be hard to maintain a singular brand voice when each social media platform comes with its built-in personality. But rather than seeing this as a problem, why not treat it more as a crash course? Think of it this way—if your brand can be consistent across multiple channels, then you know that your brand is powerful. At the end of the day, only weak brands can really be diluted. Putting your brand voice through the grinder of several platforms will let you know whether it’s strong enough to represent you and your company.
The metrics you can source from your social media profiles are worth their weight in gold. Analyzing your social media accounts for metrics like reach and influence will help you empirically tune your brand’s voice. For example, if a company is able to correlate a certain tone its brand uses that achieves greater reach than usual, it may have isolated an aspect of its brand voice that it should highlight more frequently. The data gleaned from social media can help a brand create a voice that is more successful in reaching its customer segments. Every brand should begin from a place of authenticity of course, but tweaking the voice to be more in line with what customers crave should be a no-brainer.
Another important way that social media can help a brand find its voice is by introducing it to a community of interest. If a brand is newer, it may still be struggling to figure out what customer segments and demographics it appeals to, and what social media platforms these people flock to. A company that sells protein powder, for example, will probably want to flock to Instagram, since that’s the preferred platform for strength trainers. Knowing who your community actually is and what they like is priceless intel. And this knowledge will help you shape how your brand crafts its stories. Think of it this way—if you were planning to give a speech, you would likely want to know who your audience is before writing down what you were going to say. In any conversation, there are three components: the speaker, what is said, and the audience. Having a more intimate knowledge of an audience will help a brand define how to structures the other two components, so that any conversation will feel authentic, lively, and compelling.
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