Social media has opened the door to connecting with more of your audience in a way like never before. But with great power comes great responsibility. Gone are the days of extended production schedules and rounds of concepting, writing, designing and editing. Today, businesses have to act quickly in order to stay relevant. And, unfortunately, once your message is out there, it’s too late to take it back. That’s why it’s so important that your social media communications adhere to your brand’s mission, vision and values—as well as your customers’ expectations.
Let’s take the example of your very professional and very conservative boss. Every morning he gets to the office by 7:30 wearing a suit, tie and meticulously polished shoes. He greets you by your full birth name in a way that only your parents did when you were in big trouble. Then he retires to his office and closes the door. That’s the extent of your relationship. One day he comes in at 10 a.m. wearing a floral shirt, khakis and boat shoes. He walks over to you, sits on the edge of your desk and says, “what’s up, man?” At this very moment, everything about this person you’ve admired is inconsistent with his brand, and you’re left feeling confused, uneasy and basically betrayed. That’s the same thing that can happen when your social media posts are inconsistent with the brand your customers and prospects have come to know.
Brand consistency is more than just having the same logo appear on all your communications. It’s about the way the visuals and the messages make your audience feel. Not only can brand inconsistency turn off potential customers, it can also cause you to lose the trust (and business) of existing customers. In fact, a recent study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that consumers who saw brand consistency across various channels had a nearly 70% better perception of the brand and increased their purchase intent by 90%.
So, what are some of the biggest challenges with maintaining a consistent brand across all of your social media platforms and how can you overcome them?
Maintaining a Consistent Voice
While each social media platform has its own voice and tone, keeping yours consistent with your brand’s values is important regardless of which platform you’re on. While it’s okay to be a little more conversational on social media, your messaging should never stray too far off brand. That may not be so easy to do when you have your agencies, employees and brand advocates all contributing to your posts. Having a well-defined style guide that defines your voice and tone is crucial to keeping your social engagement on-brand.
Keeping Your Design in Check
It could take years to build a recognizable brand and seconds to destroy it. Today’s consumers are busier than ever and look for shortcuts wherever they can get them. That’s why they gravitate towards things that are familiar and don’t require a lot of thought. Imagine if you’re driving down the highway looking for a quick bite to eat and instead of golden arches, you see black arches. It can be quite jarring and cause you to rethink everything you thought you knew. Suddenly you wonder what else may be different about this brand—what else are they hiding. Rather than chance it, you continue on down the road to the next fast food restaurant. Inconsistent design in your social media channels can create the same type of doubt. Be sure that the logo you use in social media is your official logo. If your branding uses a lot of illustrations or black and white images, do the same in your social media. In other words, design your social media posts the same as you would any other marketing tactic. By creating a share drive that provides access to images, fonts and colors, you can help control or eliminate rogue posts.
Defining Brand Standards
With the advent of social media, many employees have taken to the airwaves (or WiFi waves) to become advocates for their companies and their brands. While this sounds like a great way to expand your messaging capabilities for virtually no additional cost, it could actually cost you plenty. Imagine dozens of employees, all with different personalities and voices posting about your brand without any sort of guidelines to follow. Engage a branding or marketing agency to help you create clear brand guidelines and monitor them on an ongoing basis. Then ensure they are available to your employees, freelancers, vendors and anyone who touches your brand. It’s also a good idea to limit the number of people who have administrative access to your social media accounts.
Coloring Inside the Lines
Not only is it critical that your brand’s social media posts be written and designed in a way that is consistent with your brand and company values, it’s also important that anything you like, retweet or share on social media also aligns with who you are and how you want to be seen. Pick and choose where you put your social media energies and ensure that the platforms and topics are both relevant to your image, your values and your audience.
The Wrap Up
Whether social media messages are sent from your employees, customers or marketing partners, the only way for your brand to consistently succeed is to have a consistent brand across all of your online and offline communications. By staying true to who you are, you can increase your brand equity, customer trust and ultimately, your bottom line.