Tag Archives: Whole Foods

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.

The Best Branding on Social Media

It’s time for another round-up of the best brands in social media. Along with old favorites Facebook and Twitter, this time I’m looking at Pinterest, now the third-most popular social network in America, and Google+, which is finally gaining traction among brands. Who’s the best – and why? Read on.

 – Michael Kors
With 23 boards and more than 750 pins, Michael Kors’ Pinterest gives his fans a lot to look at. But only about half his boards are about the products themselves, such as watches and shoes. One board is “Style Tips,” a great resource for fashion enthusaists, while others like “Travel Diary” offer a sneak peak into the designer’s glamorous lifestyle. “Michael’s Milestones” feature photos of Michael’s past, including his child-modeling work in the 60s.  “On Broadway” presents Michael’s favorite shows, while “Eat Up” presents his favorite foods. It’s clear taht Michael Kors is using Pinterest not just to sell his products but also to connect with fans and give them an inside look at his life.

Twitter – Whole Foods
Named one of the Top Ten Twitter Brands of 2011 by Social Fresh, Whole Foods boasts more than 2.6 million followers. What makes them so popular? Their profile description includes this promise: “Ready to answer you questions Mon-Fri 9am-5pm CST!” I constantly remind clients that social media is a two-way conversation, and Whole Foods has embraced that idea by inviting questions (and, most likely, complaints). Whole Foods also tweets plenty of cooking tips and recipes, and dozens of images – not only of food but also of branded events, like its “Ring of Fire” ski tour of Pacific Northwest volcanoes. And the chain makes good on its guarantee, responding to comments and questions throughout the day. It’s a fun, enthusiastic, helpful channel, which is what every brand should aim for.

Facebook – Starbucks
Starbucks is one of the brands most engaged with its audience, according to social marketing firm SocialBakers. Their Timeline is filled with responses to fans’ posts, ranging from “Is your decaf coffee decaffeinated through the Swiss Water Process?” to a complaint about a rewards card that hadn’t arrived. In some cases, Starbucks takes a day to reply; in other cases, just minutes. The brand keeps things simple on Facebook, with no apps or games except for a tab that allows fans to send Starbucks Card eGifts to friends. There are plenty of photos and videos, though, featuring employees, music, and Starbucks’ scrumptious products. Best of all, the brand devotes one of its eight tabs to job-seekers, with a job search Facebook app that’s intuitive and easy. The result is more than 30 million likes, making Starbucks the second-biggest brand Facebook Page in the world.

Google Plus – BMW
Brands are still finding their way on Google+, but BMW sets a great example.
For one thing, BMW has constructed a photo of its new i8 Spyder concept car through a clever use of its four profile images – which some brands are still struggling with. The carmaker post lots of photos and videos of its products in action. Like Whole Foods, the brand is rewarded for engaging fans; its simple question of what rims to put on the new Gran Coupé elicited 433 answers. There are user-submitted photos, too. And while BMW may be a luxury brand, it never talks down to its fans on Google Plus, covering racing along with its high-end cars. Such compelling content and breezy conversations have garnered BMW 491,000 +1’s, and the brand is in 490,000 people’s Circles.

At Brandemix, we use all these social media channels, along with YouTube, LinkedIn, and others, to reach consumers, donors, employees, and job-seekers. If you’d like to learn more from our research into social media best practices, contact us.