Maintaining Your Brand Image in the Evolving Social Media World
With more and more social media channels popping up online, maintaining a consistent brand identity across each of them is taking on added challenge. This is magnified by the fact that there is a greater diversity in how communication is made through the various platforms.
Some platforms are perfect for expressing deep thoughts and ideals, and laying out future goals and initiatives, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Bubblews, and Google+. Others are more suited to shorter snippets of news and ideas, like Twitter.
Visual imagery in particular is becoming a popular medium of expression through social media now. Tumblr is a very visual medium which allows embedding of GIF’s and streaming video in posts. Pinterest, Vine, Flickr, and We Heart It are likewise very visual networks focused on pictures as opposed to walls of text.
Your Brand, In 200 Words or Less
Maintaining a consistent image across these diverse mediums requires first knowing what your own brand and image is. The short answer to that is that it’s everything, but more specifically, the following key areas:
Values ~ In everything you do, you are expressing values that represent your company. These values are things consumers look for, and they will align themselves with companies or brands which share their own values, and may shun those which don’t. Always make quality a priority — e-commerce businesses, for example, can implement a credit card processing system to make their site more intuitive for customers. This dedication to quality should be reflected in your brand.
Mission ~ Let’s call it your mission statement. What is your company’s primary goal with its services? Is it to be the best restaurant for throwing birthday parties in the city? Is it to be the nail salon with the friendliest service? If your company doesn’t yet have vision and/or mission statements, creating them should be priority number one.
Identity ~ The imagery associated with your company. Colours, logos, a mascot or other form of recognisable icon; these are all elements of the visual identity that you project alongside your correspondence.
Maintaining Your Brand, in Everything You Do
Now that you know what your brand is, let’s discuss how to maintain it. Depending on the size and scope of your business and social media operations, chances are you have more than one person managing your social media accounts, or may have different people managing different accounts.
In this case it becomes important firstly that everyone representing the business on social media knows what those values, as defined above, are. They should know what the company supports and does not, what subjects you are willing to discuss or not, the general tone you would like to use, and the overall theme of your mission that should be woven into your content whenever possible.
In the case of our fictional nail salon, a photo posted to Pinterest of a customer’s stunning nails may seem like a great idea. However, if that shot also happens to capture a morose-looking staff member in the background, it is not consistent with the brand image trying to be portrayed that this is the friendliest nail salon around. That mission and brand image should be pounded home at every opportunity, and never wavered on.
It’s also important to ensure those managing the channels have access to the same visual tools, and that they’re using them consistently so that your brand image and colors are maintained across the various platforms.
Likewise, they should all have access to the same company news or memorandums so the relevant information is spread throughout every social media outlet, in the ways relevant to that medium. They should also have access to a robust list of ideas for different posts, so their content doesn’t get stale.
When you and your team knows the message you’re trying to get out, and have the tools to do so, it makes cultivating a consistent brand image that will appeal to customers infinitely easier, no matter how many or on which social media websites your brand may take up residence.