Using Social Identity to Shape Your Brand Message
Have you ever stopped to wonder why social media has become such an integral part of our lives? By nature, we’re social creatures, so when given a tool like social media which provides seemingly unlimited potential for us to connect with others, it’s not too difficult to make the connection. Thanks to social media, we can develop and maintain relationships with people all over the world, we can discover new services, products and organizations and we can carefully create an online identity that represents us to the rest of the social media world. In fact, we place ourselves into specific “cliques” without even thinking about it.
Consider the fact that most people don’t talk to their friends out at a bar on a Saturday night the same way they talk to their co-workers in the conference room on a Monday morning. So it’s no surprise that people use social media channels in a very similar function. For example, a young professional isn’t likely to post the same updates and photos on Facebook that she’s going to post on LinkedIn.
So,what does this mean for a business using social media to connect with potential and existing customers? It means that the business should be thinking about its own social identity on each network it’s a part of, which should in turn affect the way it markets to followers, fans and users.
Change with the seasons
People change – whether moving to new cities, starting graduate degree programs or getting married, people are most likely not using a particular social media channel exactly the same way they were when they first joined it – possibly years ago. If your business has had a number of followers for more than a couple years, consider how your marketing should change to appeal to them as their identity has changed. Let’s say your business is a venue used primarily for weddings, but once followers are married, they may not be interested in what you’re selling. Maybe it would be a good idea to change your social media marketing strategy to include content focusing on throwing baby showers at your venue, christening parties or family reunions.
Most people belong to more than one social network, and chances are, people don’t belong to smaller social media networks without also belonging to the social media mainstays, Twitter and Facebook. But what about those smaller networks – why are people there? Many people would rather create narrow identities for themselves across multiple channels instead of having one broad identity on a single channel, and it all comes down to self-branding: what image do I want to portray to my audience. Social media marketers for businesses should most definitely branch out to appropriate smaller networks, but should also keep in mind their identity on each. For example, Facebook and Twitter are great places for a furniture store to host discussions and post messages about sales and promotions, but perhaps their Pinterest boards are better served to share design ideas, new showroom offerings and holiday decorations. Even if your business is posting the same message across all of its social channels, wording should change to suit the particular audince of each network.
Create valuable content
It always comes down to creating content that will delight your followers. So, if you’ve noticed a trend in what your followers are coming to your page for, you should take note and think of ways to continue to provide what they need in an even better, simpler way. Maybe your business is a bakery, and you’re constantly answering questions about today’s cupcake flavors. Is there an app that can be made that features each day’s flavors so users don’t even have to ask and you don’t have to continually repost? Or if you’re a non-profit organization that focuses on registering people for organ donation, maybe you can encourage people to change their profile picture to a graphic you’ve provided that states they’ve registered to save lives. Creating value that speaks to your audience’s social identity is one of the most powerful ways to connect.