Social Branding Is a Language. Learn to Speak It!
What does learning a language have to do with social branding?
I traveled to Brazil last December. It was my first visit and although I speak several Latin languages, Portuguese is not one of them.
I navigated around Rio de Janeiro in broken Portuñol (A combination of Spanish and Portuguese). I tried to make myself understood. I realized that if you want to belong to a community, you have to be able to speak the language to “fit-in”. Once you can communicate in native tongues you belong to the “tribe”. You can relate to the jokes, the expressions and the way of thinking.
How does this relate to my brand?
Most brands aim for customer loyalty and to earn it you must communicate in “their language.”
When I worked in an advertising agency, many moons ago. I usually crafted an advertising message based on what I thought was the target market. In essence, the agency and the brand controlled all communications.
News flash! It is no longer about what the brand wants to say. We now have to talk the talk. We must speak the language! We learn how to communicate with the many varieties of social media tools.
When a client hires us for social media marketing, the first question I ask is, “How do you relate to your audience?” Then I want to know if they have a sales person that can answer all social media queries. In other words, a social media customer service department.
The lesson begins.
What do I do when I learn a language? I must understand that it won’t happen in a month. It’s a process that takes time. Social marketing is the same way. You must understand it before you can communicate.
Let’s listen, get a good feel for the sound of the language to adapt to the form of speech. Let’s establish a conversation around a topic of interest to put our audience at ease and to build brand trust. Remember, we are foreigners in a strange land.
How do you go from static language to spoken language when this concerns your brand? It’s difficult to imagine a talking product. A creative team has to animate and craft a personality.
Here are some examples: Food is a universal topic, in works in every business setting. What are you eating for dinner? I had lunch with a business partner! A quick breakfast will get me started in the morning, how about you?
Show easy and effortless suggestions. Also, keep in mind that you want to share value. Responses and activity take time. Don’t be discouraged. Keep doing what you are doing and you will begin to understand your audience.
What if it is B2B? Use relatable topics. If it is tax season talk about taxes and tips. If it is a staffing agency, share employment tips.
The bottom line is to be approachable and likable. It takes time and patience.
We use a combination of promoted posts and brand ambassadors to establish a conversation. As we progress we begin to understand a customer’s needs. Keep everything simple, simple suggestions, simple images, and simple ideas.
Navigating a conversation and losing control
When you are learning a new language, you have no power! You don’t know the ropes. Many brands lose control of their message through social media. This should not scare you! It’s an opportunity to connect with the customer. Look at it like a sales pitch. It is another form of messaging, one in which the audience has control over the messenger. Try to accommodate and you will win! People forgive brands when they are appreciative and helpful.
Finding a comfort level so that you can be understood
Let’s face it we all have to sell! NOW!
Once I get a new client, I dive into past conversations and scrutinize what has worked and not worked. I find past social media efforts helpful. I don’t discard any information that could be relevant. It is amazing what you can learn from a conversation.
To conclude, in my experience, advertising today is a two-way conversation. The first thing to do is learn the language so that your brand becomes part of a tribe and a community. This way we can build brand loyalty and get more sales.