What they never tell you about branding on social

I was thinking about the chat I had on last week’s Serious Social Live, with David O’Hearns from Dawn Creative. We talked about building brand. Everything from the basics to the knotty problems. In particular we discussed how branding is not just about social. It is an integrated and central responsibility.

But it also seems to me that when it comes to social, branding does have to be different. It needs to adjust its cadence, behave more meta and even grow more in its meaning. And you need to be aware of that. There are things no one tells you about branding on social, that you only discover when you are buried in the feed and the everyday of posts and conversations.

Personality matters if you want attention

Social is so personal, so intimate, you cannot be a faceless organisation. You need to have a clear idea of who you are. Then you need to amplify that into a personality. You want to have the charisma and the confidence to be the “person” that stands out.

Creating a personality means more than just a tone of voice. It means a distinct and emotionally connected series of traits that represent your brand values. Without it, you end up as a megaphone for company announcements – so work hard at who you are, and well, get a personality!

Inside out and upside down

There is nowhere to hide your brand on social. You cannot plaster over the cracks or shove your dirty clothes under the bed. You have to be you. That means two things. One, don’t lie or obfuscate the truth. Two, fix the problems at the core of your brand. whether it’s your returns policy or your delivery service – make sure all your moving parts are on brand. That starts at home. With employees and the business, itself. That is what branding is.

Oh, and always do what you say you will do. It is your brand promise.

Consistency, not a lack of variety

Just the same way as brand isn’t just your logo, brand consistency doesn’t mean the same content everywhere. If you want to optimise your social, then you can change the game on each channel, tell different stories every day, or even switch up and down messaging. What matters is that your core values stay the same. The essence of the brand is strong, not how it is played out.

Measure your branding

Tempting though it is to measure branding with engagements and impressions – that is not a brand metric. You can string together a bit of share of voice, and maybe some of the demand gen measures such as clickthroughs. But at its heart you want to know if you are a brand that is recommended, advocated and most important memorable.

So look instead at reviews and recommendations. Look at referral traffic and track search demand. Use social listening to determine value and avoid response bias. And absolutely measure your branding as a whole using trad metrics like brand equity with recall surveys.

My final piece of advice – be conscious of your brand in social. Pay it attention. Make it come to life for your customers and use it to fire your company into the minds of your audiences

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