As a communications firm, we are often asked if we “do social media.” To me, that’s almost like asking, “Do you do in-person meetings?” Social media covers so many channels these days, it would be difficult to run an organization without participating in some form of social media.
Having developed social media strategies and campaigns for clients for many years, we have some insight about how organization can create a cohesive campaign across all platforms through the use of one clear “voice.”
The rule is this: your organization’s “persona” or personality should be used across all channels. This is where many organizations falter. Some organizations with more conservative cultures may mistake that a silly or brash social media voice will make them seem more fun. Other progressive organizations may push the envelope too far.
Whether you realize it or not, everything you do on social media plays a role in your brand, so it’s crucial to have a social media voice that complements your brand and connects with your supporters. This doesn’t mean that you can’t show some personality through your social media. Personality is a good thing. It helps people connect with and relate to your organization. You just have to be sure it aligns with your brand. If it doesn’t, you run the risk of confusing and isolating your audience.
A cautionary tale about going off brand that you are probably familiar with is the Starbucks #RaceTogether campaign. In 2015, after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and subsequent civil unrest, Starbucks started putting the slogan “Race Together” on coffee cups in effort to spur healthy discussions about race. Unfortunately, the bold idea backfired. The campaign was interpreted as a superficial marketing ploy, and the public’s response was overwhelmingly negative. In fact, #RaceTogether received 2.5 billion impressions in less than 48 hours, but a majority of the posts were negative, with a third of them categorized as “hate” for the company and for CEO Howard Schultz.
What did Starbucks do wrong? Many things, but the main issue was that their actions were poorly executed and didn’t match their brand. They inadvertantly got involved in a heated political argument and ended up doing more harm than good. Moral of the story: make sure your actions match your brand.
How can you make sure your social media aligns with the rest of your outreach efforts? By training the person who manages your social media accounts. Make sure they understand the voice of your brand, your target audience and the image you are trying to create. Remember that everything you post influences how others see your organization.
I cannot underscore enough the need for maintaining cohesive and consistent messaging throughout your outreach and social media efforts. This is paramount to maintaining your audience’s trust and support.