November 19, 2014 ↘︎

Are you guilty of hiding your brand’s personality on social?

Recently I’ve been working closely with a brand who are in the early stages of their social media development. While working with them in presenting ‘who they are’ on social, I’ve been reflecting on just how important it is for brands to define their personality and was reminded of this line from one of my favourite films;

‘I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty.
But a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.’

Personality does go a long way. Personality allows you to develop your tone of voice, and your tone of voice allows people to relate to your brand. Without a defined personality your brand will be swallowed up in the social media crowd.

Hello world.

Picture this: You’ve just arrived at a party. You’re alone, your friends are running late and you don’t really know anyone. Looking out across the expansive back lawn, you search the crowd for familiar faces. (Ok confidence, get into action.) You take a deep breath, put on your friendly smile and make a beeline for one of the groups…

Sounds a bit like a scene out of a Hollywood film doesn’t it? Welcome to the world of social; social media that is. Networking on social media is like stepping into the discerning eye of the camera, we are constantly positioned and judged accordingly, which can be a bit daunting being that the whole world is on there too!

Back at the party: You’re crossing the lawn and as you approach the group you start to think (what is my ice-breaker?) Be yourself, just like in the real world, you need to be authentic online too. The same is true for brands. Being natural and avoiding being fake or rigid is the best way to make a lasting impression. So rather than launching into a deep analysis about politics in the Middle East (unless that’s your forte of course, well actually, it’s still probably best avoided), try being a little more light-hearted.

But who are you?

Fancy soiree, wedding, small backyard gathering, it doesn’t matter what the setting is, people are more likely to engage in conversation with you when they can catch a glimpse of your personality. It’s human nature.

Smile, make other people smile. Too often brands present themselves as faceless entities online. Be social, that’s how you network offline so why wouldn’t you do the same online? The same goes for companies as for individuals. Online, offline. You need to develop your personality, show your audience why it is they need to know you and not your neighbour.

A favourite of mine is the revitalisation of Old Spice, it oozes personality. If you haven’t seen it already you really should check it out.

Does your brand have personality?

As you mingle at the party you start to realise some of the people there are not really ‘your type’ – some of them are a bit over the top; others are self-obsessed and talking to them is a one-way-street; then there are the ones with the deadpan expression watching on the sidelines, following your every move.

So you can see why people hesitate to befriend brands and become their advocates on social media when there are so many personalities, and non-personalities. This leaves brands in a difficult position, or does it?

At the end of the day social is about talking to people. People just like you and I. So while it’s all fine and well to be informative and talk about your brand and how wonderful it is you’re not going to impress anyone with dry technical language. You need to entertain your audience. Inject some humour, reveal your personality, empathise with your audience. Typically boring topics such as energy and finance are made fun and entertaining by General Electric’s social team who do an amazing job of making their ‘boring’ brand highly engaging and revealing their personality. Check out their Twitter feed for inspiration.

Don’t be a wallflower.

No one, and I mean no one is going to want to hang out and be your friend if you have a beige personality. The same goes for your brand.
Breathe life into your brand by holding a workshop and brainstorming with your team. You’ve created personas for your audience, well now it’s time to do the same for your brand. Who is the ‘person’ behind the brand? what do they look like? what are their favourite things? what language do they use?

Back to the party, your friends have finally arrived. But it doesn’t really matter anymore, you’ve networked and made some new friends, in fact you are now introducing them to each other.
Once we remove all the barriers of technology, the impersonal, sometimes sterile tools that we use to communicate with, and what do we have? People. People talking to people.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on November 19, 2014.
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