Companies turn to social media for marketing and are disrupting the balance through personalization.
In 2019, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are critical social media platforms that no brand hoping to make waves would be caught dead without. Today, companies turn to these modes of communication for marketing and expanding their brand voice. Stephanie Moore and Jason King, account supervisors for the digital media team for Porter Novelli, shared their insight into how strategic and innovative brand voices are disrupting social media marketing.
For many brands today, not having a social media account on some type of platform is a strike against the brand’s credibility, according to Moore. Social media is increasingly the go-to point of contact for increasingly savvy users who are no longer looking for brands to serve as gatekeepers, but as reliable sources of information. Brands that retain the interest—and loyalty—of the 2019 consumer harness the power of transparency across their social media channels.
Both King and Moore also noted that, amidst the noise, it’s more important than ever to develop and maintain a consistent brand voice. Whether sassy or informative, humorous or galvanizing, brand voice lets businesses establish their digital acumen, command attention and tap into innovative storytelling. Moore emphasized that matching story to audience is also a critical component in today’s digital world, especially if brands want to get the right message in front of the right eyes.
“Social media is still a main communication and information source that clients seek out,” said Moore. “Brands must be agile. Different platforms have different audiences, so if only one is utilized that means a brand is missing eyes.”
Most successful brands leverage social media managers who serve as stewards of the brand’s voice. According to King, the companies that tell stories in a compelling way encourage engagement and are able to fly to the forefront of social media marketing.
“The more clever, personal and conversational a brand can be on Instagram or Twitter, the more they cut through the noise,” said Moore. “If a company is too factual and not playful, the less ground they are capable of holding against competitors. Fun and funny commentary stands out the most and assuredly calls to groups the brand tends to attract.”
Humor can be seen through brands like Wendy’s and Burger King, while advocacy is seen in brands like Patagonia and R.E.I. Still, others, such as Jeni’s Ice Cream, create a unique digital presence through storytelling and direct connection to the founder.
King said, “Many brands do sound the same when they are compared, but this is where context is key. People aren’t thinking about brands all day long, despite constantly being bombarded with ads. They’re going about their life. Within that time, they are paying attention to brands they already like, and getting interrupted by others with the potential for liking or disliking new brands. Marketers then must piece together data and information to determine how different a brand sounds and if that actually has implications for business goals.”
Many brands have created their own voice, running their own accounts in order to control feedback with guests and to maintain a clear brand voice. Other companies will outsource the work to place more focus on the business aspects of their work, trusting an agency to promote their brand and create a voice. Moore stated that brands have to understand how critical it is to invest in client engagement, both through financial means as well as in the creation of brand voice.
“I think many brands have forgotten what it means to be ‘social,’” said King. “It isn’t about churning out content. It is about actually being social—responding to people’s comments and questions.”
King emphasized that putting intentionality behind brand voice is key.
“The brands with the strongest voices don’t just have a personality or voice; they have a purpose and point of view,” said King. “They seek out people in networks and communities and sometimes create them too. They don’t just rely on the most popular social platforms.”
Instagram is on the rise, but that doesn’t mean other modes of social media are defunct. Moore said that having a presence on all different types of platforms, not just the most popular ones, is a step towards a brand’s longevity and its awareness of a changing digital climate.
“In the past several years, I’ve seen brands attempt to establish a specific voice on social media,” said King. “Marketing teams must decide whether a more human-sounding voice is right for their brand. In addition, many brands want to be seen as ‘authentic.’ But every brand is authentically something. That’s what marketers have to define.”
Wendy’s is a prime example of how far brands can take ownership of and define its voice. The brand can be informative but also can provide a sassy comeback. Such flexibility of voice is a testament to the team’s trust in both its social media manager and its impact, according to King.
Brands do not have to have a distinct voice like just like Wendy’s, nor should they feel pressured to create content just to fill up a page. Moore and King stated that social media platforms still use algorithms. To break away from the math, a company needs to create a distinct voice engaging positively with users, with a strong presence across various channels.
As social media continues to be saturated with brand messaging, companies can stay at the forefront of trends with a clear, defined voice across all platforms. Mixed messages and white noise be gone.