Is Your Brand Annoying Online? 5 Ways to Tell…

posted on November 1st 2014 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

Mad Men's Don Draper

Mad Men’s Don Draper

I believe it is possible for brands to have personalities. We actually want them to. Since the Mad Men era, advertisers have been trying to personify brands in order to make them resonate more with consumers.

Over my career developing digital and social media strategies for brands, I have worked on a number of customer segmentation studies, where deep ethnographic research helped define who these consumers are and what makes them tick. That insightful data is then used to shape communications strategies for the brand.

One of the first steps in kicking off a new social media engagement with a client is developing the brand voice… this often stems from (and sometimes branches out from) the voice developed in the overarching Brand Platform. This is where you answer questions such as: What are the brand’s core values? What does the brand want to convey? How would we like to people to think of the brand when mentioned?

The interesting thing about social media is that it’s possible (and highly advisable) for a brand to adjust it’s tone and creative to match the nature of the platform. For a solid example, look no further than Denny’s on Tumblr, it’s unique, weird and oddly nothing like the way they portray themselves in their tv ads, but that’s why it works–it fits the platform.

I have worked in several agencies where this brand voice document actually comes in the form of what is called a Character Sketch. It is a brand voice guide that has literally been personified to the point of having a name and a daily schedule, down to the point of when this imaginary character wakes up, when they log in to Facebook or Twitter and how often, to when they go to sleep. It’s a huge over-generalization in my opinion, but it is meant to help the content and community management team understand when to post and how to act.

These characters marketers develop, perhaps named Matt or Nancy, get many personality traits assigned to them, such as “working mom” or “fitness enthusiast.” Never once in these character sketches, do I recall one of the personality traits of these brand characters being “annoying” or a “douchebag.” Yet, it happens all the time.

So many brand managers and business owners fall into the trap of thinking these “free” social media platforms are their soap box to shout their messages and beliefs with a megaphone and bust into any semi-private conversation with a hashtag to try to peddle their wares. This happens all too often today, usually under the guise of being called “real-time marketing.”

I liken this to Michael McDonald’s MadTV character Stuart bursting into the room, exclaiming “Look what I can do!” and getting no response, yet continuing the game.

I often think of social as an idyllic place where people convene to share ideas, exchange knowledge, document and share details of their personal life—almost like a cafe or family table. Those are typically places where soliciting is unwelcome, yet businesses still are trying to close a deal when no one is interesting in buying right now.

If your brand or business is doing this, you are probably guilty of being annoying.

Successful social brands aren’t constantly selling, they are creating original quality content that has real value and meaning to their community and sharing the same way you might talk with a friend or business associate at a Starbucks.

I call this being Socially Sound.

To me, socially sound marketing is the concept of corporate responsibility when communicating on public platforms, predominately designed initially for personal use. It’s about being genuine, honest, and adding real value (and by value, I don’t mean 10% off or a contest to share a selfie that is meant to boost “likes”). There is a real place for brands and businesses online outside of actual commerce, and you need to understand what your role is as a company.

The thing is, most brands and agencies are too close to it tell whether or not they’re acting irresponsibly. Here are five ways to tell if you are not a socially sound marketer:

It is for this reason, I have started a new social media and digital consultancy called Socially Sound Marketing!

We don’t build plans solely around numbers of Facebook posts or Tweets we’re going to send every week, regardless of the outcome. We develop content strategies that meet real business goals. We measure. We provide insight. Then, we adapt.

Don’t be annoying. Add some real value. That is what Socially Sound Marketing is all about.