How to Ignite Brand Personality into your Social

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Social media is full of noise. This is not going away anytime soon. In a crowded playing field brands have to be able to cut through the noise if they want to reach their target audience. A way to do this is by developing a brand personality.

If you are as interesting as a piece of dry toast in your social media marketing, you are wasting your resources. Having a brand personality is not optional anymore. You have to make your company interesting and unique or you’ll get lost in the shuffle.

Don't have a toast brand personality

Even the toast is sad that you’re no fun.

Of course, this is easier said than done. In some cases, it might mean re-strategizing or re-positioning, but there are some simple things you can do right now to infuse some umph into your brand’s social channels.

Decide. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.

Like the famous book says, you must learn to not let fear stop you from taking action. In the case of your brand, this is the fear of taking a stance someone might not like. This fear prevents you from having brand personality and ensures your company will come across as a bland piece of toast.

I see this over and over – companies afraid to take a point of view in case someone might disagree with it. Letting this fear take hold is one of the worst things you can do for your business.

When you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. Your message gets watered down to a point where it is irrelevant. So how do you know if you’ve done this? A simple test. If everyone is agreeing with you (or staying silent) you have a problem. You don’t have to get political or majorly controversial. Just have a point of view that is on message!

Dig deep. Build opinions. And know that if the critics start coming, it means that you are saying something that is finally interesting and useful.

Get More Specific on Consumer Persona.

I see many companies unwilling to choose one audience segment they invest their time into. They want to reach elderly and Millenials and Soccer Dads, and professional athletes, and Shopkeepers and socialites and on and on. This is nuts! The best companies out there know clearly who they are, what they value, and who needs them most.

It can be difficult to get specific. You worry that you’re turning your back on potential profits. You worry you’ll make the wrong audience persona. You worry you’ll lose customers.

But, you can’t afford not to narrow down who can MOST benefit from your product or service. Once you get some clarity, you learn what your community likes and can develop the brand personality that will serve them best. Michel Jansen has a nice white paper about consumer personas to get you started.

Brand personality archetype

Michel Jansen’s Archetype Wheel is a great place to start with consumer personas.

Also, getting specific doesn’t just help inform brand personality, either. Specificity hits right at the bottom line. Brands that are profitable are very aware of their primary customer and make every effort to cater to them. They don’t spend resources on acquiring or retaining the rest.

Actually Be a Person. Like, for realz.

Every brand has personality potential and it probably lurks within your staff.

Earlier this month I was dissatisfied with how Twitter was going for one of our clients. Growth and engagement were lower than our goals and we needed to figure out why. Rockstar Community Manager, Ana and I had a huge “DUH” moment. There were no images of actual PEOPLE related to the brand.

Ana smartly changed the profile picture to the photograph of the CEO of the company (who is well known in her industry). Within days, we were getting triple the amount of engagement and had a 22% increase in following.

Brand personality photo usage

The line denotes when we changed the Twitter profile to a photograph of the CEO.

Remember that You Are Talking to People.

One of the easiest traps to fall into is to simply take corporate rhetoric and throw it out on your social channels. Your employee handbook or training material copy should not be where you get your social wording. (unless you have the coolest, most engaging handbook ever)

Instead give your company a persona as well. Include not only demographics, but make it a person. Give it a name, details about the life, and create a backstory that helps guide you.

A way to help with this is to pretend like you’re having a conversation at a party with your community. What would a real person company version say? Would they spout off a mission statement or give the run down of an “About Us” page? Not likely if they want to be well-liked and invited back.

When embarking on this, avoid the “my brand is boring” trap. It a myth! You can have a brand personality no matter your product or industry.

Go and Do!

A brand personality doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking before you can get going. Start trying things. See what works and what doesn’t. Sketch out your personas and test them. Adjust when needed.

Get to it! The internet won’t wait for you to get interesting!


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Hilary Buuck joined Lightspan with a background in marketing communications, digital marketing, and public relations. She has extensive experience working in the non-profit and healthcare industries. Her experience taught her how to be incredibly resourceful and do more with less. She believes that authentic storytelling is key for brands to stay competitive and that digital marketing is the best way to get that story out there.
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  • Okay, I know I’m a video guy, but this is one of the reasons I love video so much. It’s a great way to SHOW people the personality of a business. Throw away the pre-packaged corporate script, let people talk from the heart, and you’re on your way to great content!
    –Tony Gnau