It doesn’t matter if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr; your online personality is not only part of your overall brand, it becomes an interactive experience for you and your business. So, who is the face or voice of your brand and what do they share? It’s a very important decision in and of itself.
Just as you create branding guidelines and key messaging guides, so too should you dedicate time to creating your social media personality. There are multiple combinations that you can use to increase your brand visibility and converse with your customers.
Be transparent and authentic. Be human.
Don’t want the worst day of your life to be played over and over again like Groundhog Day? Then don’t talk, share, Tweet or write about it via social media. That said, no one is happy, or perfect all of the time. It’s okay to let people into the “real” events which happen in your life. Social media for business is about return on engagement. Connect with people, build opportunities through dialogue which would not have otherwise occurred, then connect them with your business.
Think in terms of “bad driver just cut me off” instead of “just got served papers for a lawsuit.” The first example connects people and encourages dialogue. Who hasn’t been cut off by a bad driver? The second example has the potential to make people uncomfortable or turn them “off” to your brand.
A great example of “what not to do” is posted on Peter Shankman’s blog, How an “accomplished communicator” communicates. The sender of this email has now publicly shared a not-so-nice side of his personality in a VERY public setting.
A profile pic is worth a thousand tweets
A major part of your social media personality is your avatar and your profile bio. The first rule for avatars and bios is to stay consistent across social platforms. If you’re sharing information from your business account, decide whether you want your avatar to be your company logo or the face of the president. Each sends a completely different message and requires a different messaging and branding approach.
Who is doing it well? Here are a few of my favorite business and/or personal branded avatars and profiles on various social media platforms:
Businesses have many options when it comes to creating a Facebook personality. There are options for “group” or “fan” pages versus a personal account.
· Benjamin Leis and his pet project’s group page, The Campus Buzz for College Media: Ben uses The Campus Buzz as his avatar to reinforce the importance of his project and brand. He is becoming one with this identity.
· Carrie Kerpen and her company’s fan page, the Kbuzz: Carrie’s profile is on par with her personality—smart and helpful, a loving wife and mother.
· Blendtec’s Will It Blend? – The company offers a full library of “Will It Blend?” videos on its YouTube account with a profile perfectly suited to match.
An inviting avatar may include one of the following attributes (along with great content): a smiling face, a full color photo (as opposed to black and white), or a familiar logo.
Leaving a legacy
Your social media personality becomes part of your brand’s legacy. Don’t brand your personality for the day, the month or the year. This is serious stuff. What you post stays around for a pretty long time and the information (good and bad) isn’t too hard to find. Your social media posts offer vast archives of information about you.
This means, what you share, post or tweet today should reinforce your brand tomorrow. Think about each message you share via social media as an email which has gone public to your entire organization and all of your stakeholders. Now, imagine if they are reading this email and RESPONDING to it. That’s part of the power of your social media brand.
Who is leaving a legacy aligned with their brand on Twitter?
· @BreakingNewsOn – Why? All breaking news, all the time. I’m not confused about what I’m getting from them.
· @dannybrown – Why? He walks the talk on business with a strong emphasis on philanthropy.
· @barefoot_exec – Why? Her messages completely align with her goals—to empower women, celebrate success and encourage greatness.
Don’t be a social schizo
Multiple personality disorders do not work well in social media. If you confuse, you lose. If you are a business expert one day, a media maven the next and live news feed after that, people will ultimately stop connecting.
A very simple approach is to make a short list of what you WILL talk about via social media. Stick with it. The pay off? When someone thinks about an expert in interior design, they will think of you because you will have BRANDED yourself as one. (DISCLAIMER: This is not an opportunity to “play a doctor on T.V.” You should actually be an expert in the areas you claim to be.)
The same concept applies for joining multiple networks. Keep the same personality for each.
Ever heard the compliment about a truly admired person, “he or she is the same in public as he or she is behind closed doors?” This is what I believe to be the golden rule of your social media personality. Live your brand across all networks (including offline).
The following people blog or vlog about specific topics and continue the dialogue via other social media platforms consistently:
· Aronado Placencia: (@Aronado) This man lives to promote entrepreneurs and new startups. With a goofy sense of humor and an ability to connect quickly, he is ultimately all about promotion (in a good way).
· Jeff Pulver: (@) Usually looking for social media speakers, getting ready for the next social media summit, or just talking about social media – he really does live “in” social media.
· Melanie Notkin: (@) She has branded the new, hip way to be an aunt. Her blog and online personality co-exist harmoniously.
Social climbing not the best approach
Social climbers beware. As you build your social media personality, don’t only connect with people who have a lot of “followers,” “friends,” “connections,” etc. It makes sense to engage the “big dogs” of social media, but it’s even better to connect with other quality audiences. Spending too much time looking for the big fish may take away from an entire school passing you by. Go grassroots and begin to build your personality one social media platform at a time.
A relatively easy approach on Twitter:
Use the search function and type in keywords associated with your brand. Reach out to everyone talking about these items with a personally crafted “Tweet.” Do not resend the same thing over and over. People you interact with will read your Twitter stream and want to see what useful information you provide.
Check out networks, groups, or fan pages on Facebook:
Creating a group or fan page for people to become a member of both gives you a new to interact with current customers and offers the opportunity to grow your reach exponentially. The Creative Commons fan page is a great example of a fan page doing it well. Their fan page has several discussion board posts (similar to a blog) and many wall posts – which demonstrates that people are engaged. They also have “REAL LIVE” employees who participate on the fan page.
Start a conversation on Seesmic, a video blogging community:
Post a 30 second video blog on Seesmic, asking for feedback and you’ll get it. There is a small, but mighty network of users on this video platform. If you’re looking for a way to jump on the video bandwagon this is a great way to get started. Todd Jordan (@tojosan) is an engaged member of the Seesmic community and offers “tell it like it is” advice. He gets that it’s not all about the numbers, and follows people who enjoy frequent video conversations with him.
It’s not a one-stop shop
There is no one-size fits all personality for your brand. In fact, think you know your brand? Explore social media and see how people really experience what it is you’re selling. You may need to adjust or reflect on your brand.
What is your brand offline? Social media isn’t an opportunity to reinvent a new brand, but to widen your brand’s reach. It’s all about the experience, right? People should get the same (or similar) experience with you online that they get offline. For example, a business owner talks up an impressive customer service experience at his or her business online without ensuring his or her staff truly delivers this service. Making a promise you can’t keep is worse than never having engaged your audience at all.
Remember Motrin Moms? Sharing information via social media without someone there to interact is a giant NO NO! A “must have” when branding on social media is being available to your public.
Return on engagement
It’s all about ROE – return on engagement. Is your social media personality working? You’ll know when opportunities arise that never would have been possible otherwise. A few ways to “quantify” engagement:
• Track incoming traffic from links
• Number of people subscribed to RSS feeds
• Number of people in social media groups, fan pages, etc
• Trackbacks or linkbacks to posts
• Conversation tracking tools like Twitter Search (Mashable guest writer Dan Schawbel previously discussedfree and fee-based brand monitoring tools)
• Comments on blog posts
• Increased sales and general inquiries
Best advice? Don’t take anyone else’s advice
You know your brand better than anyone. Learn some of the social media fundamentals, then apply and find what works best for you.