Taking your online personality from “on-bland” to “on-brand”

by Rian Newman

A little while back this sponsored post from National Australia Bank (NAB) appeared in my Twitter feed…

While the bank probably thought its topical trifecta of emojis, internet jargon and mention of “Monday feels” would draw some hearty guffaws from millennials all over the country, a quick glance over the replies dealt their hopes a rather crushing blow.

But you can’t be mad at them for trying – it’s important to never underestimate the reputational dividends that can be brought about by a truly dank meme.

Though it might be hard to believe, social media is still a relatively new frontier for a lot of businesses. Finding a comfortable, consistent online personality is not all that different to life in the real world – we’ve all arrived at where we are through years of trial and error, and at one point or another we’ve all tried to impress someone else by forsaking our authenticity.

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As social media strategy consultant Amy Porterfield tells us, authenticity is imperative to social media success, and the more humanity we can let shine through our brands the better. “

People always respect someone who works really hard, but they love someone whom they feel is real, someone they can connect with,” Porterfield says. It’s the kind of philosophy that all brands should be shooting for and the necessary balance that some are already striking.

Take Wendy’s for example. You may have seen the American fast food chain in the news last month for a series of sassy Twitter replies served up by the company’s social media manager, Amy Brown.

The tweets went viral because they offered up something we rarely see from major businesses – a genuine online personality.

We’ve become so accustomed to robotic, one-size-fits-all responses from brands that it hardly seems worth the time and effort it takes to reach out in the first place.

“Thanks for your feedback. We’re sorry to hear about your experience. Please call our customer support team for assistance.”

Yawn!

Wendy’s tweets are not only funny and conversational but they also demonstrate a steadfast understanding of the company’s products and business practices. We can tell they’re coming from a real person who is lively, bold and full of spirit, instead of a place of insecure indifference about their place of work.

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One of the pitfalls businesses fall into online is being too afraid to differentiate between a customer making a legitimate complaint and an online troll with nothing better to do.

On the surface, it may seem like a sensible approach to play it safe rather than risk offending the wrong person, or worse still, exacerbating a fragile situation by inviting further vitriol from any digital flies on the wall – but the companies that do so are missing a valuable, cost effective opportunity for building a connection with new and existing customers.

The groundswell of support that can grow from a strong, authentic social media presence should not be underestimated. When choosing your social media team, choose people who naturally reflect the vision you have for your brand and are proud ambassadors at the same time.

It’s a jungle out there and allowing your social team the freedom to be themselves and see their ideas to come to fruition may just result in the kind of brand equity that will endure long into the future.

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