We have long passed the stage of arguing about the sense or non-sense of brands actively using social media channels. Today, successful companies heavily engage with their users in various social environments, often even having dedicated agencies or employees looking after the networks.
However, nowadays, many brands still search for the right way to communicate with their followers in order to build trust & reputation. Some unsuccessful approaches include:
– brands talking in a press release way that feels far too much official for social media
– brands communicating in an inconsistent way, so it does not fit to the overall brand image/core and thus seems inappropriate to users (e.g. by adapting specific language schemes of their followers)
– brands trying to connect each and every single post with one of their products/features
So what is the right recipe to start conversations with followers and keep them going?
“Social skilled” companies teach us that successful bilateral dialogues come along with a lot of excitement & laidback attitude through social communication. Brands like RedBull, Google or Disney are examples of this tactful technique. Their secret weapon is nothing else but content. Content that has the right balance of information & entertainment, content that users directly want to share with their friends; content that inspires and causes emotional reactions.
Such bits of content (mixed with high regularity) are the secret ingredient to get social interaction. But what if a brand simply doesn’t have the resources to produce ”winning content”?
The answer is simple: trust your users and followers. A simple call-to-action is often underestimated, but keep in mind that it could launch a great variety of user-generated content! This content is then accessible to your brand; now make good use of it!
Twitter perfectly describes one example of such a social chain reaction on their new blog.
It shows how a reporter of a magazine was able to gain almost 5.000 new followers overnight, created a huge buzz – and all this with the power of one single question.
Of course such a phenomenon has not been a complete coincidence. Major key success factors have been fulfilled and enabled it to grow big:
1) The call-to-action was pretty short and easy to understand. So was mechanism to reply to it.
2) The idea itself was filled of viral & emotional power: the quest was to share life’s best moments pictures.
3) The topic of memorable moments itself created trust between the users and encouraged the community to participate.
4) The first users replying to the call themselves had a broad follower base, which accelerated the speed of spread.
Taking such an example into consideration, brand communication can definitely profit from the power of social media. In general it is recommended to apply a good mixture of both worlds: strong own branded content & intelligently utilized user generated content. Both however need to be able to foster conversations & build trust with the users.