5 Ways To Create A Social Brand Narrative

For many brands today, the pursuit of social media popularity can come at a high cost. As brand teams focus exclusively on social success in terms of shares and likes, they frequently throw strategy out the window, falling into the trap of posting videos of the cute baby rocking out to Katy Perry to garner more shares.

Brands that use a disciplined approach, connecting core themes and stories across social and traditional media, succeed in something more tangible by reinforcing their brand stories and building brand equity.

The cute baby may get the most shares, but how does it help to drive the brand conversation or differentiate the brand from the competition? By relying solely on dashboards that display popularity measures, brands may think they are winning the battle; in fact, they are losing the war and may be damaging their brands in the process.

These measurements can be misleading and limit a brand’s full social media potential. An army of fans and shares may look good in a report to senior management, but it would be much more meaningful to measure the quality of social content, and how well it is aligned with a brand’s core themes and goals.

An interesting way to read social media timelines is to look at them as a Social Brand Narrative – a story created by the cumulative impact of all social media posts over time. When brands manage this effectively, social media can become a powerful tool to drive brand equity.

Here are five ways that brands can create a more compelling, consistent Social Brand Narrative:

1)   Have A Distinctive Tone Of Voice
Infuse your brand’s personality into every post. If you have a mascot, consider posting ‘in character’ -- a strategy that has been successfully implemented by brands including Planters Peanuts, Captain Morgan, Travelocity and Food Lion.  Even without a mascot, you still need to document the personality and tone of voice of your brand, providing comprehensive guidelines for all content creators.

2)   Reinforce Core Themes From Month To Month
Treat your brand themes as valuable assets and create fresh content to support these themes every month. When core themes are neglected in favor of one-off coupons and random questions like, “what’s your favorite color?” The result is a less distinctive, weaker brand presence. Unlike many other grocers, Whole Foods consistently reinforces its core brand themes from month to month across all social channels with content about employees, suppliers, sustainability, and social causes supplementing recipe ideas and produce tips.

3)   Build Content Around Occasions

Many brands start delivering content for occasions like Halloween, Christmas or the World Cup a couple of days before the event as if caught by surprise, rather than using a disciplined strategic approach. Identify occasions, create an editorial calendar and utilize proven storytelling techniques to get readers into your story. For this past Valentine’s Day, Milk Bone Dog Biscuits got into the act with their #sayitwithmilkbone blogger campaign. Animal loving bloggers were chosen to use the dog treats to make something lovingly creative and help spread the word. In addition, they held a Twitter party while special packages with red bones provided a code for consumers to enter on their landing page for a chance to win a year’s supply of Milk-Bone dog biscuits.

4)   Be Prepared To Be Spontaneous

Supplement your editorial calendar with opportunistic posts that are connected to breaking news and real-time events. One of the most memorable “spontaneous” tweets belongs to Oreo and occurred during the Super Bowl blackout. While they couldn’t have known that there would be a blackout, they had to have been prepared by having a team on standby to create and post something on the fly that would get everyone talking (Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet during the Power Outage).

5)   Use the Right Data in the Right Way
Brands that are truly social savvy are digging deeper into the data on their social dashboard and aligning these insights with other data points such as consumer purchase behavior to create social media campaigns with real impact. If grocery store market basket sales data reveals that loyal customers shop for prepared meals most frequently on Fridays between the hours of 10:00am and 5:00pm, well-timed tweets and perhaps a Facebook post to followers, that complements this behavior with a coupon makes sense. Retrospective measures of popularity are still important, but data can also be used to look forward and create content that engages and motivates your core audiences.

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