Social media is awesome, right?
It’s a great way to pass the time, stay connected, and view hundreds of much-needed cat videos.
(I could seriously watch a cat bat a cup of something off of a counter all day long.)
We all know that social media, however (in terms of marketing), is much more than that.
It can be the online face of your company. The communication hub. A public forum. It can be so many things, but what I want to focus on is its importance in supporting your company’s brand.
Social media can be an incredible branding tool. Not, like, a hammer or wrench, though. I’m talking about something big… like a table saw. The kind of tool that can create an incredible product, but can also chop off your arm.
Let’s talk about branding first.
I don’t want to beat you over the head with the term “branding.” A lot of people throw that word around without fully understanding it, though, so it’s important to have a solid foundation.
Branding (when you’re talking about marketing) refers to the idea or feeling that comes to a consumer’s mind when they think about your company. In this case, your brand is not simply the name of your company. It’s both the fact sheet and the essence. All of the things your company is, plus all of the things people think your company is.
So, when you think about establishing your brand, things like website design, logo, slogans, and business cards often come to mind. Why? Because those are some of the most highly visible parts of your brand.
The other obvious aspects are things like business models and core values. What kind of message will you be putting out there in the form of blog posts, Facebook statuses, and tweets?
If you’ve gotten to the point at which all of these things are chosen, designed, and built, then you are miles ahead of the race… but you haven’t won yet.
Let’s talk about content sharing.
The content you share is part of your brand.
I’m not referring to your blog posts right now, or even the Instagrams you take of the coffee you’re drinking. I’m referring to other people’s content.
If you’ve taken the time to create a brand for your company, you’ve hopefully established those trusty ol’ core values and business philosophies that your customers and clients will soon trust and appreciate. (If you haven’t, I’d highly recommend doing that.)
So, if that’s the case, why would you want to sabotage that by sharing content that goes against (or is irrelevant to) your cause?
Let’s say, for example, that one of your company’s missions is to reduce the stigma of depression in today’s society. You want to get the point across that depression isn’t something you can just magically snap out of. You want people to understand that each person’s needs are different and real, and that a quick, easy fix isn’t realistic or healthy.
In this case, sharing one of those jaunty little cat videos with a caption that says, “Just something to brighten your day!” is probably not appropriate.
Sure, it made you chuckle. Maybe it even got you to spit out your coffee a little bit… but the idea that a video of someone’s cat knocking over a Christmas tree could “brighten your day” is not in line with that aforementioned mission. Moves like that can cause erosion to the relationship of trust you’ve built with your audience… and that’s not good for business.
…but isn’t variety the spice of life?
It is fun to see a business “let down its hair” every once in awhile by sharing a funny meme or video. I totally agree with that… as long as that video or meme is in-line with the general mission. “The content you share from your business’ profile should be intentional. ” It should further your mission and solidify the relationship you have with your audience.
One of my favorite ways to think of the content a brand shares is by personifying it. I like to think of the shared videos and articles as the attendees of a dinner party that your brand is hosting.
When you’re planning a dinner party, chances are you’re hoping it’s going to be successful. One of the ways to ensure an enjoyable dinner party is to invite people you respect and appreciate, and who mesh well together in conversation and beliefs.
This doesn’t mean you have to invite a room full of people who feel the same way about everything. That would be boring, and that would lack growth and substance. Different perspectives are important and necessary when it comes to authenticity.
A person with a differing perspective that lacks respect or clashes jarringly with others is not necessary, and can damage the relationships you have with people you highly value.
The more you invite that guest, the less likely people are to keep coming back to your parties.
Keep your dinner parties and your brand intact. Think critically about the kind of content you’re inviting to your social spaces, and preserve the bond you have with your audience… and maybe leave the cat videos for your personal viewing.
…unless they’re in-line with your brand’s core values. In that case, you should probably share as many of those as possible.