6 Types Of Social Media Approach By Brands

"The right way to approach social media ..."

We see some iteration of that headline almost every day. Why? Because brands and brand managers are looking for direction.

But the problem is not as simple as "one" approach. While there are definitely best practices that have become evident in the social space, social media marketing isn't one-size-fits-all. As in traditional marketing, there are different kinds of personalities that manage different kinds of brands, and what's right for one is often not right for another.

The key for brand managers is to be self-aware and transparent. To honestly acknowledge your comfort level with risk, how you feel about your brand engaging in dialogue with consumers, and your personal uses and opinions of social media -- and talk about all that openly with the people you expect to help your brand grow through social media.

The first step isn't identifying what the brand should do, but who the brand manager is: what's his or her "Social Psyche" in terms of using social media?



Based on proprietary research, we've identified the six most common types to help those working with brands identify their Social Psyche. Which one are you?

Social Self-Starter

As the name implies, Social Self-Starters have no problem being motivated to use social media for their brand. They want to be among the first to play in new social channels or try something innovative in an established social arena. Self-Starters are looking for big rewards for potentially big risks (risks that could put them ahead of their competition), and want their next survey to prove consumers perceive their brand as innovative. But those risks could also bomb, something Social Self-Starters must be willing to accept.

If you're a Social Self-Starter, the key is finding balance and accountability, utilizing other brand team members, an agency, or a consultant to help gauge whether a social endeavor is worth the risk or not.

Balanced Believer

Balanced Believers start with the facts. The data points them in the right direction. But they understand that their instinct as a seasoned brand manager will ultimately be their guide, taking them places the numbers alone won't.

The key for Balanced Believers is continually maintaining that balance by staying on top of the trends, going to conferences, initiating agency trends and inspiration share-outs, and testing as they go.

Data Defender

Data Defenders rely on research and proven tactics/case studies before they'll invest in a social media channel or idea. It's not that they're not willing to try something new. They just want to ensure these new things will provide ROI. The key is adding an ownable twist to the proven tactics they adopt.

Data Defenders rarely make mistakes. By investing in reliable methods, they get reliable results. But they should be aware that competitors who are willing to take risks might get steps ahead.

Buzz Builder

Buzz Builders are definitely defined by the "social" aspect of social media. It's all about seeing their brand's videos showcased on blogs, social efforts trending on Twitter, etc. Traditionally these are the big Super Bowl or Times Square mass brands. But not necessarily in social media. Some brands are able to generate a lot of buzz within a very niche community.

Buzz Builders deserve kudos for proactively giving up control of their brand to consumers, a notoriously risky move. The real key is to make sure you're saying something valuable consistently.

Media Maven

In contrast to Buzz Builders, Media Mavens love the "media" but aren't so sure about the "social." They like the potential reach and impressions social media offers, but fear what happens if/when something goes off script. In truth, almost every week there's a new brand in public hot water because of a rogue tweet or misguided approach to engaging with consumers socially.

To control the inherent social aspect of social media, brands must be "prepared." Media Mavens should dedicate a brand team member or work with an agency to create a Social Style Guide of sorts, identifying ahead of time the kinds of filters all content must pass through before it can be published. Brainstorming anything and everything someone might say about the brand -- and preparing responses with the legal team's approval -- will make them more comfortable with their ability to respond quickly and strategically.

Campaign Champion

Campaign Champions use social media for shorter-term objectives. They already have a big integrated campaign they're launching, and social media is another cog in the mass media machine. This is a good thing. It means the brand manager recognizes that social is a great way to make the most of any marketing message.

The watch-out, however, is not taking full advantage of the social space. It's great to use social for each campaign. Campaign Champions just need to make sure it's being used to build long-term trust with consumers at the same time, investing in consistent social engagement after the campaign window closes.

2 comments about "6 Types Of Social Media Approach By Brands ".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, September 22, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.

    I think this approach is completely backwards. The brand should be a personality in and of itself, not a reflection of the brand manager's personality. It's possible that I, or a person who is my polar opposite, could be brand managers for Tide (pick any brand). Our personalities should have nothing to do with the social media approach for Tide.

    Self knowledge of these social psyches would be helpful to the brand manager in determining how well he/she fits with the brand voice. But, this doesn't drive the brand voice.

    Or, perhaps by "brand manager" you mean the driving personality that represents the brand. But, that wouldn't be a brand manager, it would be a personification of the abstract "brand."

  2. Travis Ulmer from RIVET, September 27, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.

    Hey Jonathan, thanks for the comment. I'm not saying that a brand's personality should be a reflection of its brand manager at all. In fact, this is not at all in the context of a brand voice.

    It's more about the approach to how their brand will socially go to market - comfort levels with risk, willingness to jump give control over to consumers, etc. If a brand manager isn't comfortable with a certain social media idea for their brand, they're not going to buy it (regardless of whether or not other brand team members or their agency feel it IS right for the brand).

    This is why I think it's so important for a brand manager to look at themselves honestly and realize what impact their personal predisposition to social media has on their brand. From there, it's important to identify the strengths, watch-outs and opportunities based on that predisposition.

    When an agency and/or other brand team members understand each other in this context, they can know how to work together to then overcome some things one maybe wouldn't have been comfortable with before for the sake of the brand. We've had these discussions with our clients and its worked wonders for our relationship, not to mention the brands' success in social media.

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