By a certain point in our lives, we all develop a unique voice and personality that defines who we are. That personality distinguishes us from our peers. Like people, brands also have unique voices. In today's competitive market, in which consumers are faced with countless brands, brands often struggle to set themselves apart from the rest. That's why it's important for brands to decide, before launch, the kind of voice they want to embody and how they want to be perceived in a sometimes incredibly judgmental market.
Though it's not an easy decision, brands begin to hone their identity over time, and the truly social media savvy leverage their newfound confidence to engage and empower their followers. They develop "attitudes," and these attitudes are what ultimately sets leading brands apart from the pack.
Until now, I have witnessed six social media attitudes that coincide with a brand's distinct voice, allowing marketers to engage their followers in a deep and meaningful fashion. The examples that follow show how each of the six social media attitudes works for a certain brand.
Of course, you might have many other attitudes you can bring to the list, and I'd love to hear about them. Dissent is also encouraged. Share your thoughts in the comments section to continue the conversation.
We all know someone who likes to push the envelope as much as possible. You might have also come across some brands that do this on Facebook. These brands push social media etiquette to its limits in an effective and memorable fashion. But what differentiates social media provocateurs from other brands is that they ask the questions -- but leave it up to their followers to push the envelope.
The above Facebook post from popular gum brand Dentyne is just one example. Instead of telling fans about the craziest text its social media manager has ever received, the brand invites users to post their own stories. Clearly, some of them are a bit too risqué to print here, but that's the whole point. By giving users the floor, Dentyne is perceived as a "sexy" brand without having to launch an overly vulgar advertising campaign.
The straight shooter
Mainstream news sites constantly face the challenge of avoiding bias in an attempt to be fair and accurate. That's why on their social media channels, they take a more straightforward approach.
The New York Times is a good example of the straight shooter attitude. Most of its posts are direct, give a quick synopsis of the issue at hand, and then ask users to share their opinions about the issue. In the above example from Sept. 28, The Times posted a link to its live blog announcing Amazon's new tablet, the Kindle Fire, accompanied by a short blurb and a question asking users what they think about the announcement.
While this route doesn't necessarily work for all brands, it works particularly well for news sites. Media outlets with a reputation for being somewhat quirky could get away with more light-hearted posts, but typically, the straight-shooting attitude is the route that most news media sites ought to take.
The sports enthusiast
Some brands know their audiences cold and play to them at every turn. For these brands -- which more than likely have nothing to do with sports -- making sports the topic of discussion gives users the perception that the brand shares their passion for sports.
Cell phone provider Boost Mobile does this quite well. Known for sponsoring combat sports such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship and one of its most popular fighters, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Boost Mobile's posts are often about the fighter or about mixed martial arts in a broader sense. They also start up conversations about sports in general, as seen in the Facebook post below, which asks users to predict who will win the football game.
While these posts don't have a direct connection to Boost's phones, they position Boost as a phone company for sports enthusiasts who might enjoy a few pints during their favorite sporting events. And as we all know, image is everything.
Enjoying the finer things in life doesn't stop when we log in to our Facebook account. That's why some of the most popular luxury brands in the world extend their expertise to social media channels. Such brands tend to use copy in their posts that mirrors that of their print and TV advertisements. By doing so, they're bringing the same sense of elegance and prestige associated with their brands' advertising to their social media channels.
Popular luxury fashion and beauty products company Burberry is a solid example of this technique. In the above post about its beauty tutorial series, the copy reads like it was right out of the brand's television commercial, presenting the "signature look" of the Burberry Beauty collection.
The meme fan
As you might have noticed, internet memes can be some of the most popular content found on the web. With that in mind, it's no surprise that certain brands known for their eccentric senses of humor use these memes to their advantage in their social media campaigns.
Jack Link's Beef Jerky, known for its quirky and irreverent Bigfoot advertising campaign, frequently leverages internet memes on social media channels. In the post above, the brand is referencing the popular (yet admittedly terrible) song "Friday," by now-famous internet celebrity Rebecca Black. When referencing the taste of Jack Link's Beef Jerky, the brand uses a phrase made popular by internet circles: "nom, nom, nom." It might not seem like much to us, but for those social media users familiar with these phrases and funny videos, it might be enough for them to relate to the brand.
The TV nerd
There are fans who like television programs, and there are fans who really like television shows. The latter demographic is one that social media fan sites tend to speak to the most. By taking on a TV nerd identity, TV brands give social media users the feeling that they're part of a community of fervent enthusiasts.
One community that is rather adept at conveying excitement to diehard fans is the Facebook fan page for Showtime's hit television program "Dexter." The show's Facebook posts are far from boring and read more like eager fans boasting of the program than the average social media manager reminding fans to watch the show. With Dexter's sixth season on the horizon, posts alluded to "D-Day," building major hype for the return of the program.
What do these six attitudes have in common?
There are a number of other attitudes that have found success over the years, but the six I've mentioned on the preceding pages are the ones that I've experienced most often. The unifying thread among all of these attitudes is that they're completely reflective of their brands' messaging. If Burberry distributed low-end products or Dentyne's advertising was completely family friendly, these messages might not have been as effective.
Regardless of the attitude you decide on for your brand's social media campaign, it should always align with your brand's mission and message, and maintain the identity your brand has developed over the years.