I recently came across the 2011 CMO's Guide to The Social Landscape. I think this is pretty on target when it comes to figuring out how to best align your goal with the right social media channel. However, with multiple goals and channels, it can get tough to maintain a consistent brand. Your brand may come off as disjointed or fragmented, leaving customers filled with doubt about what exactly your brand stands for and where the value is, thus negating all your hard social media work. Mashable posted their 5 Tips for Maintaining Brand Consistency Across Social Media. I agree with a couple, but not sold on all of them. Below are some additional tips that can help give your brand one voice.
- Define your brand personality and voice - this is consistent with Mashable's #1. You have to decide what your brand stands for and stick too that message throughout all your communications, both online and offline. Choose 2-3 personality traits or core messages and permeate them via photos, videos, comments, posts, etc. across your social media properties. For example, Zappos does an excellent job promoting and broadcasting their primary personality trait and value proposition of customer service. Consequently, if you were to ask anyone what online shoe retailer they think has the best customer service, 9/10 times the answer would probably be Zappos.
- Focus on your expertise - use social media channels as a way to extend your reach and thought leadership. Post about ideas, news, tips, trends, etc., that are relevant to your industry. That's not to say you should never post about anything else, but keeping your subject matter close to your area of expertise will help reinforce your image as a leader in that area.
- Utilize your logo and other branding assets - your logo is likely your strongest branding asset. Though it may be more fun or edgy to use an off-the-wall photo for your profile photo, make sure to include a version of your logo somewhere on the page to ensure people know it's the legit company. This is especially important for a channel like Facebook, where virtually anyone can create a business page, which may be confused for the "official" page. The law of repetition works with visual communication just as much as it does with written and verbal communication.
- Take control of your profile - as mentioned in the last tip, it can sometimes be confusing for a user to identify which social media account is the official one. Brands should take control of, or "claim", their pages on each channel. Don't forget those geo-location pages as well like Gowalla, Foursquare, and Facebook Places. If an individual has started a page for your brand, don't just request that it be removed. Instead, make sure that it is clearly marked un-official and try to find ways to highlight this organic fan enthusiam. If a person loves your brand enough to make a fan page, he or she'd likely love a shout-out from the official brand or even be wliling to merge it (if possible).
- Update moderately - you don't want to overload your followers/friends with so many updates that they get annoyed and unsubscribe. However, it is important update moderately and consistently to help keep your brand fresh in everyone's mind and reiterate your brand personality. One way to help do this is to link profiles together. You can link Twitter and Facebook to post to one another, or link a Flickr set with Facebook, or set up a blog RSS Feed to auto-tweet new posts. There are several options for linking various social media accounts. But remember, moderation is key here, so be sure to link accounts in a way that makes sense and doesn't overwhelm.
It's shocking how many brands don't do the little things that sum up to make a big difference. If you have additional thoughts on how to maintain your brand within the social media sphere, please let us know in a comment!