Tweets, Facebook postings, and other social media channels can put brands into a cycle of knee-jerk reactions that do not necessarily reflect their company values. So much of what passes for great social media is pointless and off-brand.
Having a clear communications strategy is the linchpin for effective communications because it provides a lens through which to evaluate all messaging before it’s shared with the masses. Social media is not a strategy. It’s an expanding set of interactive communications channels through which to tell your brand’s unique story.
Being on Facebook, Twitter or other social channels is not unlike traditional channels such as radio or print; without a compelling story, the medium doesn’t matter. Too often, marketers mistake attention for effectiveness. While we all know that “likes” don’t necessarily translate into purchases, and traffic for traffic’s sake does not create loyalty, the temptation is to flood the market with many messages and see what gains traction. In an attempt to develop a strategy, some companies turn to practitioners who understand social media but who don’t understand the corporation’s values, company or brand. This puts brand equity at risk.
The foundation of an effective strategy is a comprehensive understanding of the essence of the brand. This information creates a context for how to use social media as a competitive tactic. Great strategies take advantage of a dynamic marketplace and evolving customer preferences. The information gathered from social media can inform the strategic approach but does not replace the critical thinking necessary to understand the total competitive landscape.
Once you get your brand’s strategy right, success becomes dependent on the quality of the storytelling. There is no substitute for smart, compelling content. Strong creative talent breathes life into the strategy. Suddenly your brand earns the importance and relevance it deserves, making social media an amazing environment in which to engage your prospects and customers. The challenge is staying on strategy while continually finding new ways to tell your story and feed the social media beast. That’s why it’s critical to use professional writers and editors who can help you maintain the level of expertise that your brand deserves. Consistent storytelling over time is what builds loyal followings on social media.
When you see the confluence of a solid communications strategy being executed with a smart creative team, it truly is a thing of beauty. That’s when the influence of communications can change attitudes, build brands, and create unassailable competitive advantage.