Are you striking the right tone on social media?
Editorial

Are you striking the right tone on social media?

How your company behaves during the tough times of Covid-19 is going to leave a lasting memory for many. Inappropriate messaging or tone of voice on social media could severely damage your brand and consequently affect your ability to pull through and thrive in uncertain circumstances.

The temptation in the current climate may be to stop communicating and hide away quietly. But that is exactly what you should NOT be doing. Now, more than ever, you need to be in constant dialogue with your customers, showing the community that you care and that you are doing what you can to help.

A great example of this working in practice is my local café, the Blue Orchid Bakery. You would imagine that Covid-19 has had a major impact on their business. As an occasional customer who doesn’t follow them on social media, my respect for them and desire to support them when they re-open has grown immensely in the last week. How have they done it? By behaving in a respectful and kind way, by adapting their business model and by sharing their stories on Facebook. How have I seen it, you might ask, if I don’t follow them? I have seen it because friends who do follow them have been motivated to share their posts on their feeds. The post below, showing them delivering to NHS staff, tells me two things. That they are doing their bit to help and also that they deliver, the latter of which is news to me. It is my eldest son’s birthday this week, so maybe I’ll get a birthday cake delivered?

In the Social Media Principles course that I run for CIM, we structure the session around the 4 stages of customer engagement – acquire, participate, engage and share. So, how could you use this model to make sure that your brand is being seen in a positive light in uncertain times?

1) Acquiring attention

The first stage is acquire. That means acquire the attention of people that don’t know you, to build reach. In social media terms, the most effective way to do that is to influence influencers. In the case of the Blue Orchid Bakery, that means getting existing loyal customers to share their posts. There are different types of influencer, categorised by factors such as audience demographics, overall following and content type. Which is more appropriate for your brand? Should you work with a popular celebrity or an industry expert? You could invite subject matter experts to guest write a blog post and post a link to it on their social channels, or you could ask an expert to deliver a webinar on your behalf. Think about what type of influencer works for your brand. At present, the most influential celebrity in the UK is probably Joe Wicks as he does his fitness workouts to 1 million people every day, which shows you how quickly things change. Generally, I am in favour of using more niche, specialist experts who have the trust of their followers due to their knowledge, rather than using an unrelated celebrity.

2) Encouraging participation

Once you have acquired attention, you need to get people to participate. This means getting them to click through and find out more, view your website, watch your video. The key thing, at this stage, is to get people to opt in. Encourage them to follow you on your chosen social channel or sign up for email, or whatever channel you wish to engage with them in. Content marketing is a great way of creating a value exchange to drive people to at this stage. It is free, fast and doesn’t require any technology to publish it. As the world is moving so quickly, blog content can be written and uploaded almost instantaneously, so it is a great way of keeping people informed, educated or entertained. Just make sure you post a link to each blog article in your chosen social media channels.

3) Prioritising engagement

Now, you can engage with your audience. This is step 3 and often the longest stage. This is the nurturing, persuading time, where your social media posts act as a constant reminder about your brand. Think about which channel is best for which audience. For example, I know that a leading supermarket brand targets parents with families on Facebook and young people setting up home on Instagram. A private school in the town where I live uses Facebook to keep parents of existing pupils informed, whilst using Instagram to attract new parents. As your customers are probably spending a lot more time at home online right now and are experimenting with House Party, Zoom and other emerging software, consider testing channels like TikTok that perhaps weren’t being used as much by your audience only a few weeks ago.

4) Share and share alike

The final stage is share. That brings me back to the start of this article. That is what the Blue Orchid Bakery have been great at; getting their loyal, engaged followers to share their posts. Think about why you share posts as a consumer and which of your posts have been shared the most by your customers. People are very aware of what others will think of them when they share and how it impacts on their personal brand. Do you want to be seen as an educated marketer (perhaps you will share this post if that is your motivation and you have enjoyed it!), or as a good parent, home schooling your kids in innovative ways, or perhaps you want to be seen as a caring neighbour? Whatever your motivation is, that will impact on what you share. So, have a think about why your customers will share your posts. If all you do is post promotional messages, why would people share it?

My advice would be to focus a much as you can on engaging with existing contacts at present, and providing your customers with helpful, empathetic service messages to build trust and loyalty. If you do this well, they will choose to remain loyal and hopefully act as advocates, sharing your content with others. Now is not the time to be seen to be aggressively pushing sales messages to new customers and in particular, ensure you are not perceived as trying to exploit the situation for personal gain.

Ultimately, in 6 months’ time, do you want to be seen as a helpful, caring part of your community, or a brand that is irrelevant or inappropriate? Now is the time to step up your social posts – but ask some important questions around their tone and content.

Nick will be hosting CIM's next member exclusive webinar on Tuesday 20 October. CIM members can sign up now to find out how to deliver a great customer experience in a rapidly changing world. 

You can also view our full portfolio of virtual training options, including Digital Content Marketing, Digital Marketing and Social Media Principles delivered by Nick Baggott, here

Nick Baggott Course Director CIM
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