We here at Brunner use the Communications Style Ladder to assist brands to better understand how they can play in the social media space. As a tiered approach, it helps brands understand what they need to deliver in order to accomplish established goals. For example, if you're aiming for brand awareness and your goal is interaction, you will want to employ a communication style that is "astounding," "hilarious" or "part of a movement." Only then can you achieve the pass along effect needed to gain large scale awareness.
The Extreme Scene
Generating broad awareness means you have to broaden the conversation. This might not be appropriate for some brands. "Letsfcancer.com" started a movement among Gen Yers to broaden awareness of the importance of the early detection of cancer. Creating a brand with some shock value in the name itself enabled this nonprofit to garner press attention and some much needed visibility for their cause.
While Letsfcancer.com is an extreme example, we all know that extreme gets noticed. Many healthcare organizations, especially those who have to answer to investors, tend to walk a more conservative line. If your organization isn't quite ready for such a provocative message, it may take you longer to build relationships online. But, that doesn't mean you can't be effective.
The Basic Connection
You can create more intimate conversations with a more narrowly defined target audience by playing lower down the Communications Style Ladder. Social media provides a wonderful opportunity to create a dialogue among people who are interested in your brand and took steps to find it online. Prilosec launched a fun campaign using Facebook, Twitter and a microsite. It replaced traditional sponsorships of organizations, such as NASCAR and the NFL, to support its customers instead. Consumers could go to www.OfficialSponsor.com to apply for $1,000 individual sponsorships from Prilosec that they could use to pursue their passions.
The Brand Loyalist
The last tier is your loyal guests, patients, and/or customers who have strong relationships with you. They may rely on you for health updates, timely service, answers to questions, or emotional support. At this level, things are personal. Communications should be customized and always designed to inform, be useful, or share something meaningful.
Your brand should be a friend and an ally to your customers. Aquafresh is an example of a brand that wants to be an ally to moms looking for ways to end the ongoing battles they have when it comes to getting their kids to brush. The Time2Brush app that parents can find on iTunes was created to help motivate kids to brush. Additionally, parenting tools and tips can be found on the brand's Facebook page. This content provides another benefit to a relationship that goes well beyond what is in the toothpaste tube. In a low-involvement category, Aquafresh has become a truly useful brand to the consumer in a highly interesting way.
Whether you want to generate mass awareness or create deeper relationships with your customers, you must find the tonality and communication style that works best for you. And whatever you do, always consider the creative possibilities.