3 reasons why riding the social media trend waves might harm your brand

 

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The social media landscape is booming with trends. Everyday a new video goes viral and new trends are born. I understand the temptation on jumping the trend and enjoying the ride. It is a quick way of gaining attention and likes. But then what? -On to the next trend? This kind of behaviour won’t do your brand any good, at worst it can really harm your brand, and here’s why.

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1. The need for brand consistency

You can’t engage followers if they don’t understand who you are. While riding the trends will give you a certain amount of attention, it will leave your true fans and followers confused. Brand equity doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and requires consistency, but most of all it depends on you actually having something to stay loyal to. Building up a relationship with your customers is like building a friendship. Maybe people like you because you are cool and make them look cool, maybe because you are reliable and helpful, or because they can count on you to take a stand on something they too believe in. Your friends don’t like you because you are like everybody else. They like you because you are unique, a personality!

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Yes – brands have personalities too, and trying to please everybody will not make your company look trust worthy. Recent studies made by Adobe and Forrester research, shows that as little as 2-15% of US consumers trust what brands say on social media. This, I think, is caused by the lack of consistency in the communication coming from companies on social media. Social Media strategy is often misunderstood and taken for a strategy, which can be made separately from the company’s general communication and marketing strategy. But if your goal is to engage with your customers and letting them get to know and trust you, making a long term commitment or maybe even recommend you; this understanding couldn’t be further from the truth. So, how can you build up trust and make your customers engage with you for the long term?

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2. Why company culture matters

We all know that relevant content and storytelling is a great way of engaging our customers, fans and followers. But few, it seems, understand that irrelevant content and stories without roots and values have the opposite effect. Gaining trust, commitment and engaged customers, comes from dialogue, from being consistent, transparent and sticking with your company culture; even when it might not seem that trendy. When it comes to engaging your customers, emotions like trust matter more than you might think. Surprisingly enough, emotions matter even more when engaging B2B connections.

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Think about it! When did you last buy or recommend a product, just because the company behind it follows the social media trends and therefor have a high entertainment value?Maybe you are thinking that organisational culture sounds pretty boring in relations to communication and content creation. But it is not. Actually I don’t think I have ever heard anybody say that experiencing different cultures, even organisational culture, was boring. Culture, as described by Edgar Schein, is the stabile pattern, we adopt through our mutual experiences, values and attitudes. Often we are only partially aware of our culture, but nevertheless, it remains the backbone of our core values, it controls our behaviour and our communication. Being honest and open about your company’s culture is the only way you are able to make a true and lasting social connection. Straying from your company culture to often, in order to follow popular trends, are very likely to confuse or even annoy your engaged customers and thereby harm your brand. How are you supposed to build up a long lasting and engaging connection using somebody else’s personality and culture? Furthermore; neglecting to acknowledge and incorporate your company culture in your social media strategy can lead to deprived customer service.

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3. Employers as brand advocates

These days everybody is talking about empowering employees so they can function as brand advocates on the social media platforms. But how is this even possible if they are being a part of an isolated content marketing contest to drive sales and lack common ground and a mutual understanding of the company culture? Whenever I come across cases like #usairways, I can’t help to think that this is a result of the social media popularity contest. Trying to do customer service without knowing and owning the shared values of the company culture, and therefor seeking instant attention and popularity instead of doing what social media is really here for – communicating and connecting as the unique social being you (read your company) are. Sure, you can lay down a set of rules for social engagement, tone of voice and so forth. But if your employees don’t have a mutual understanding of the company culture, this is very likely to stiffen the conversation. Knowing exactly what the company stands for makes it much easier to engage socially and improvise when needed.

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What it all comes down to is this. Are you using social for marketing or branding? -And is social just another platform for your company to showcase your adds – is this really how you want to use this great opportunity you’ve been given with social media? To be honest I must admit that over 90% of the companies I started following on the Social Media platforms, I have either unfollowed or hidden from my newsfeed. I started following companies because I thought they would be social and share something interesting about themselves, their employees, or their culture. Imagine my disappointment when I just got spammed with even more popular quotes, viral videos, funny pics and irrelevant contests. My only wish is that companies that complaint about reach on social media asks themselves: Would I follow me and engage with myself on social media?

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