People enjoy spending time on social media platforms because they love the interaction and conversations they find there. Brands love social media platforms because they can tap into those conversations for everything from market research and engagement to selling and loyalty building.
Sounds like a win-win situation, right? Definitely—but with one challenge: Brands need to find a way to be a part of the conversation without sounding the same as they do everywhere else. Nobody wants to read an advertising jingle smack-dab in the middle of their Facebook thread or Twitter chat.
When brands strike the right tone with their customers and prospects, social media can be amazingly effective. But how can your brand find the “right” voice? Is it okay to let your hair down and have a little fun?
Some companies are getting it right.
For example, when this tweet from the UK’s @AmazingPhil revealed he was “cheating” on Domino’s Pizza with delivery from rival Pizza Hut, both companies responded by delivering humor instead of a pitch:
Pizza Hut Delivery UK: “Hope you’re enjoying it!”
Domino’s Pizza UK: “Sounds like a momentary lapse. Please don’t do it again. :)”
And it only got funnier from there. Here’s another recent witty exchange between Oreo and AMC Theaters:
Oreo: “Ever bring your own Oreo cookies to the theater? #slicksnacker”
AMC Theaters: “NOT COOL, COOKIE.”
Oreo: “Fair enough, @AMCTheaters, but don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
AMC Theaters: “GAME ON.”
Every back-and-forth was gleefully re-tweeted by fans of both brands and then covered by social media and advertising blogs who loved the playful tone adopted throughout the conversation.
As Shane Adams, the Interactive Marketing Manager for AMC explained in a post on his own blog, the key behind the success of the Oreo/AMC exchange was that both brands gave their social media pros the freedom to create and inhabit a voice that would appeal to their fans in a unique way.
What else can we learn from social media marketers who are using winning brand personalities to connect with online audiences?
- Don’t get mad. Get funny. When your brand catches a bit of criticism or snark, it might be tempting to ignore it—or to strike back. But what if you had a sense of humor about yourself instead? It’s difficult to make someone the brunt of the joke when they’re in on it!
- Create a unique social media voice. Your brand’s style is unique. Its look is unique. Its advertising messages are unique . . . and its social voice should follow suit. Social media platforms offer you a fantastic opportunity to add personality to your brand. Just be sure it’s the kind of personality that builds a stronger connection with your customers and fans.
- Put your fans in the spotlight. User-generated content in social media campaigns can be fantastic for building buzz, but proceed with caution. Campaigns like these can also fall flat in a very public way. The key is to make it easy for your followers to participate (as with the Doritos Super Bowl user-generated content campaign), but not so easy that you end up with a Skittles-style free-for-all.
The smartest “socially active” companies are successful because they understand that social media platforms call for a unique approach and because they understand that sometimes, a smile matters as much as a sale.