Monthly Archives: September 2012

Guest Post: Finding Your Brand’s Voice Through Social Media

Today we offer a guest guest post from Michael Kilcoyne, the Marketing Director at 360W3, a web design company that is finishing a refresh of our own site. Here, Michael explains how a brand’s tone and style in play an important role in how customers relate to the brand.

Coined years ago by Alan Siegel, founder of Siegel + Gale, “brand voice” refers to the unique tone in which a brand typically communicates with its consumers. Creating an effective brand voice is a matter of discovering how a brand communicates when they are at their best.

Prior to social media, that communication generally came in just a few forms — print, TV, radio, and perhaps web, but none were as always-on and involved as social media has quickly become.

Now, with the advent of social media, brands have been forced to rethink how they communicate with consumers, and to become far more willing in their communications. (And maybe that’s why the notoriously secret Apple has generally avoided social media, for the most part.)

But discovering your brand’s voice doesn’t have to occur through a series of increasingly complex brainstorms by the marketing department. Sometimes it’s just as a simple as:

1. Listening to Your Audience
Although social media is frequently portrayed as medium that is rife with broadcasters (which works okay for someone like the New York Times), it’s important for brands and individuals alike to actually pay attention to what consumers say about them through those channels.

According to a study by Socialbakers, last year, only around 5% of all wall posts that were posted on a brand’s Facebook pages were responded to, even though a report by Arnold Worldwide recently indicated that nearly 60% of consumers expect to receive a response from brands regarding service. One shining example of a great listener is Whole Foods, a company that spends about 40 hours a week listening and responding to their consumers:


Beyond encouraging consumers to interact with your brand, listening to consumers can also help you find out who you’re communicating with and how to best position your brand’s voice to appeal to those consumers. Facebook already provides brands with an exceptional amount of information regarding their fans (including their age, gender, and location), but other channels like Twitter and Instagram require more research. The earlier that your brand asks questions like, “How do our consumers communicate with our brand? What do they like?” the more successful you’ll be in crafting messages that align with those questions.

2. Telling Them What They Want to Hear
If your brand’s target audience is teenage girls, you probably won’t ask them about a UFC fight. Old Spice provides one of the best examples of a brand that has learned to cater to their target audience, providing an over-the-top, unconventional approach towards men’s personal hygiene. What started off as peculiar (and extremely successful) has quickly crossed over into full-on strange territory, including Facebook updates like this:

 

Old Spice discovered that their consumers love this stuffand their social media successes have enabled them to craft a brand voice that isn’t only unique in nature, but also something that people enjoy interacting with.

3. Maintaining A Consistent Tone
The biggest thing to take into account is the importance of maintaining a consistent tone. A communications guideline — like this excellent example from designer eyewear company Warby Parker — can help ensure that all of your brand’s external communications positively reflect your company and your brand’s unique voice so as not to confuse or put off consumers who have become accustomed to a particular tone.

Social media has enabled brands to be more human than ever, opening up a seemingly endless flow of conversation between consumers and brands. 
The most successful brands are the ones that are not only listening and actively engaged with their followers, but are also locked in on what their audiences want from a content standpoint.

Michael Kilcoyne is currently the Marketing Director at 360W3, a Westchester County-based web design company that specializes in website design and development, branding and social media marketing. Read more from him on 360W3’s blog, or follow him on Twitter @mikekilcoyne.
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Social Media Marketing Simplified

Monetizeoptimizereciprocity, and even, yes, engagement. Ever come out of a social media marketing planning session with your head spinning? This new frontier has created all kinds of vague buzzwords. Surely posting 140 characters isn’t as complicated as all those words imply?

Don’t let the jargon throw you. Marketing, branding, and selling on social media boils down to three basic questions:

1. Do people like you?
Meaning, do you have fans, followers, subscribers? The first step in a social media campaign is simply getting your target audience to find you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to reach customers, donors, employees, job-seekers, or even a niche group like travel bloggers. You can’t get the results you want if no one knows you exist. Just posting and hoping isn’t enough.

How to be liked: Promote your social channels everywhere. Start online. Put links on your website, LinkedIn company page, and any of your personal social profiles. Encourage your leadership team and your employees to post them, too. Then hit the offline world. Your social channels should be on your business cards, in your brochures, on your recruitment materials, and, if you’re have a storefront, at your cash register and on your receipts.

Image via iMedia Connection

2. Are they responding?
We’ve all seen Facebook Pages that have thousands of Likes, but no comments. Once you’ve built a community (another buzzword that should be on the chopping block), you need to have a conversation.  If people are talking to you, it means they care about what your brand has to say. It’s OK if the first comments are complaints! Eventually you’ll get questions, ideas, and eventually, answers to your questions.

How to get ‘em talking: Show your audience that you’re listening by responding to comments right away, even if they’re complaints. Then post content that generates responses and shares. Social media expert Jeff Bullas (“guru” is forbidden!) has shown that photos, quotes, and infographics encourage interaction. Meanwhile, Social media scientist Dan Zarrella (a title he’s earned) found that humor often leads to sharing, as does content that’s useful or educational. The simplest way to get response is to just ask questions; Pepsi’s Facebook page often asks general questions like “What’s your favorite summer vacation?” or “What are your Labor day plans?” These relate to Pepsi’s spirit of food and fun, but don’t blatantly promote their products.

Posts on T-Mobile’s Facebook Page

3. Are they doing what you want?
Conversations are great, but you want results. Forget about terms like “return on investment” and ask the simple question: What do you want people to do? Buy your product, join your mailing list, apply for a job? It doesn’t matter if you have lots of fans or followers, or if they’re interacting with you, if you’re not ultimately getting the result you want. Likewise, a small fan base is all right, if they’re passionate and responding to your calls to action.

How to move them: Make every sixth or tenth post about your product or service; just enough to remind people but not enough to look like a sleazy salesman. Reward people who comment or share your content with special offers. Or go one step further (and Brandemix is great at this) and hold a sweepstakes, asking people to post photos, answer a trivia question, or vote on something in order to win a prize. Most importantly, be clear about what you’re asking, with simple statements like “Click here,” “Visit our website,” “Retweet to enter the contest,” or “Answer us in the comments.”

See? No need for obscure business terms. Just three simple questions. Of course, the answers can be more complex, and not every demographic reacts the same way to the same content. If you still need assistance, my agency can help your brand create a basic, straightforward social strategy – or simplify a campaign that’s gone off the rails. 

Just please don’t call me a guru.

PS: Want to take the SoMe Superstar challenger quiz? Then guess what these words mean: SoLoMo, Plussification. Answer in the comments — if you dare.