Brands see social media as a land of limitless opportunity. And with the world's entire digital population just a few clicks away, they might just be right.
A bottomless pit of sales leads and an ever-growing audience to build into brand advocates, digital guardians, grassroots influencers, sheeple.
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram. These major social networks can make people (and animals) celebrities overnight, predict election results, raise awareness of worthy causes or just be used to organise a meet-up between friends.
And essentially that is the premise of social media, to be social. It's like a party. Rowdy or calm it's where people converse. Sharing personal stories, funny memories and discussing the world around them with their friends.
So why do brands get it so wrong? Because they talk about themselves - A LOT - and talk to those around them like they are the centre of the universe - don't you hate people at parties like that? No one goes to a party for a voucher code. No one goes to a party to sign-up for an email newsletter. No one goes to a party to read a summarised press release with a hashtag on the end of it.
We go to enjoy ourselves, just like we do every time we type in w-w-w-dot-Facebook-dot-com
To overcome their default setting as a corporate mouthpiece they must establish their approach as a 'personal brand' with an identity, an area of expertise, a tone of voice and most importantly give to the community which they wish to engage. This will give them an advantage over typical competitors in five key areas.
Trust in brands is at an all-time low and that is representative across the entire advertising industry. With consumer resentment towards businesses higher than ever, a personal approach on social media can give brands the opportunity to connect with individuals on a person-to-person level and build trust with individuals.
2. Tone of voice
A personal tone for a brand will better represent the human behind the messages. It adds an element of warmth and friendship to communications in an age where the automation of customer service is praised for reducing workload for employees.
For a business with multiple brands each can develop its own personality for different audiences. Young and bubbly to level-headed and experienced these personalities can interact with each other to offer different views on a conversation.
With this, your personal brand should develop a sense of flexibility which allows it to operate just outside the rules of corporate identity. Bringing in humour, personality and even a dash of controversy when applicable. They offer a lot more flexibility in terms of humour, personality, and even controversy.
Example: Tesco Mobile
From this a personal brand will be better able to then distinguish itself from competitors and with a more natural style. This will bring an audience closer to you as they begin to more engage with you than your competitors.
The most important aspect in adopting a personal brand is to build customer relationships. Good rapport with those you connect with online can help circumvent a customer's bad experience. Ultimately, building a closer relationship with a network's community enables fast reactions to bad customer feedback, as well as added potential for possible sales leads.