Brands benefit from reminding their fans that they’re people, too. Here’s how some of the best brands project their human side on social media.
The great thing about social media is that it serves as a powerful vehicle for a brands self-expression.
It’s a tool for communication that even the most casual internet user can grasp and master with ease. At the same time, it’s a great branding and marketing avenue that many modern businesses have been smart enough to capitalise on.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter serve as a direct line of communication between brands and their target market. Instead of adopting a general shotgun approach to communication — in the same vein as loud, one-way advertising from brand to consumer — brands are now given the freedom to directly communicate with their audience, getting a better idea of who they are, what they want, and what they need.
This is also why a lot of thought is given when it comes to making a social media marketing strategy. The process of strategising (from identifying the audience to setting SMART goals to developing a solid action plan) takes a considerable amount of time to complete; it’s not just a matter of posting whatever comes to mind, in the hopes that it’ll bring you your desired results.
The best thing about this is that brands get to show their human side to their audience as well. Many brands have mastered this, simply by knowing the right steps to take (oh, and if you’re interested, come check out this infographic about how brands humanise themselves on social media).
Indeed, the days of the faceless corporation are just about as good as gone now, as every business worth their salt has taken to social media, using it as a marketing vehicle, community-building tool, and communication platform, all in one.
For the purposes of this blog, let’s focus on one social media platform, arguably the one that serves as the best venue for instantaneous, direct communication. Twitter’s 140-character limit has been less of a hindrance and more of a catalyst for its users to think creatively — to say what they need to say, or even to stand out from everyone else, given such a restriction.
Here’s what’s funny:
Brands aren’t just interacting with their customers now; they engage with their competitors now, too. Maybe it all just began when one bored social media manager who decided to chat it up with a rival company, I don’t know.
The fact of the matter is that the friendly (or sometimes not-so-friendly) back-and-fourths between brands manage to capture the attention of consumers, providing both entertainment and free advertising for the brands.
In fact, the more natural and “real” the conversations between brands feel, the better — a study from Episerver says that 30% of brands reported higher levels of customer loyalty after they became more active on social media.
Here are some of the most memorable exchanges I’ve seen online. These brands — or at the very least, the ideas behind their exchanges — are brilliant!
Oreo completely knocks social media interaction out of the park, repeatedly.
One of my favourite brands on social media is Oreo. The folks handling their Twitter account are great at handling communication with other brands, and are always on top of the Twitter game.
- On one occasion, Oreo asked its followers if they ever brought their own cookies inside a movie theatre. Hilariously, this “got” them into a little spot of trouble with AMC Theatres, who didn’t take too well to the idea that their audiences were bringing the cookie sandwiches into their theatres. The faux outrage from AMC, as well as the ensuing Twitter drama, made for great entertainment.
— AMC Theatres (@AMCTheatres) September 25, 2012
- There was also that one time when the equally delightful folks manning Kit-Kat’s Twitter challenged Oreo to what I’d like to call a “cookie-off” — a fun little game of tic-tac-toe with both chocolate snacks vying for a fan’s attention.
- Honda and Oreo have had a couple of cute exchanges across platforms over the past year, too. When Honda first unveiled a minivan with a built-in vacuum cleaner in 2014, the automobile brand engaged with other brands for a bit of Twitter fun.
Oreo jumped into the fray with an image of a Double Stuf Oreo managing to get lodged into the vacuum cleaner — a hilarious challenge for Honda to pick on someone their own size, so to speak.
— Honda (@Honda) October 2, 2013
Apple added a touch of color to their iPhones… and Nokia took the credit for it.
Apple and Microsoft (which acquired Nokia) have some of the most vocal fans. This is why whenever Apple comes up with a new product, fans from both sides show up to either promote it or sling mud at it.
A particularly brilliant move from Nokia was when Apple announced its line of brightly coloured iPhones. As Nokia had already been offering phones in interesting colour selections for the longest time, it came up with a Tweet thanking Apple and implying that the latter simply copied the former’s design style.
An added touch was that Nokia hijacked the #Apple hashtag in the process, gaining even more traction and, ultimately, over 37,000 retweets and 10,000 favourites.
Newcastle shows the world how Super Bowl ads would look
The annual Super Bowl usually serves as a great showcase of clever advertisements from top brands. Instead of competing with these, Newcastle Ale came up with a creative idea to stand out – create storyboards that show their own takes on the night’s best commercials, upload the videos on YouTube, and post them on Twitter. It was a witty, cheeky move that resulted in quite a bit of cross-brand promotion.
These are just a few examples of brands that are doing a fantastic job on Twitter.
The world of social media marketing is full of jokesters, pundits, and witty comedians who come up with quick and quirky responses — and businesses and brands that recognise this fact and capitalise on it succeed in showing a side of them that their consumers can love and trust.
Of course, the primary reason for brands to use social media is to gain a strong following and, eventually, leads. Humanising your brand is but one way to do it — it’s about time you made sure that you’re doing it properly.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.