The 4 Pillars of A Social Media Branding Strategy: Credibility, Authenticity, Transparency and Responsiveness
Social media has forever changed the concept of a brand, forcing companies to change the ways they arouse awareness around their products or services. Today, in a world where decisions are strongly affected by social media’s public opinion, a brand has to put transparency and integrity on its real foundations. Brands are now much more connected to people and their audiences and much more in need of offering something that is compelling and that people really believe.
Great brands are those that adopt and make the principles underlying social media communications a part of what they do, integrating credibility, authenticity, transparency and responsiveness as their core values. According to a study, “71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.” The audience is leading this fundamental change; consumers will pay considerably more for services or products that are on an environmental social base in which they believe.
Unlike other channels that brands have been using in the past, such as printed ads or commercials, on social media they are being challenged to be more honest. Consumers believe brands supported by media and other sources, and if these confirm their expectations, they will tell others about it; if they don’t, they will tell everyone. Being credible is must for any brand, and companies of all sizes from established companies to startups try to get editorial coverage from large publications in order to achieve this.
As Roberto Liccardo, founder of GoodNoon, a PR platform, states:
“A good product doesn’t need an expensive PR firm to talk about it. A good product only needs a bit of added credibility for being listened to, as it talks by itself.”
We live in the world of real-time and the eye of social media and everyone can find the truth about a company or brand. From any company’s perspective, that means that their internal organization strategy and culture has to exactly match the brand’s philosophy from the outside and then fuse it on every level of the organization to ensure there is an exact match between what the company believes in and what it is doing and what has been said on the outside. From a marketing perspective, this means nothing — there is no change from what marketing and advertising has always tried to do. It is the way the brands have changed it and then just get seen by the marketing and advertisers. We are essentially trying to do one thing: to build trust. So if the phrase to put lipstick on a pig was ever true, it isn’t certainly true in the world today.
As in any relationship, honesty is the core and, as humans, we value much more a straight and honest answer, no matter how hurtful that can be. We prefer honesty rather than misdirection and obfuscations; we want people to “tell us straight”. This, for large companies, is normally difficult as they have legal departments within them that generally believe that silence should be golden. Brands built through social media reviews — such as likes on TripAdvisor or in Yelp — are giving real time updated information and feedback on those brands. And, of course, those brands that take those reviews and put them on their sites without clearing out negative comments register significantly higher sales than those who don’t. So seeing negative comments gives higher returns than if you just have positive ones.
Building a brand through social media is not just about listening to it, but it is mainly about responding to it. Reputation is one of the most valuable attribute of a brand that leads to loyal employees and loyal clients. But it’s hard to build and very easy to lose, especially when you have these waves of social media going on. Responding quickly to a bad review online greatly helps in getting the issue resolved, avoiding that to be escalated and possibly get viral through social media. Consumers actively research and want to find more information about a brand they haven’t heard about and, unlike in the past, they no longer want to listen to fabricated marketing stories, but are looking instead for authentic and engaging content.