In an increasingly digitized and connected world, brands in all industries feel the pressure to invest money into creating unique and memorable social media accounts and experiences to increase their brand and business performance. However, creating a stand-out brand experience through social media is easier said than done. One size does not fit all, and different social media strategies have different impacts depending on the industries and brands involved.
To best understand the role that social media plays in driving business performance, let’s take a look at five social media archetypes in a variety of industries, from the “old-school artisans” to the “cool dad,” in order to understand why certain types of social media strategies work better in certain industries and gather best practices that can be broadly applied across all businesses.
If You Build It, They Will Come
One increasingly rare social media archetype is the old-school artisan. Brands that fit this label generally have little to no interest in social media marketing.
Old-school artisans let the quality of their product and experiences speak for itself in generating new and continued business. As a result, in-house social media efforts are oftentimes minimal at best, but word of mouth through social media from delighted customers helps create explosive growth.
Artisans are not limited to any one industry however. In-N-Out is a cult fast food burger chain, which despite countless opportunities to explode in growth through going public or franchising, has chosen to maintain controlled and steady growth to ensure that it can stick to its three core values: Quality, Friendliness, and Cleanliness.
And the reviews back that up. In-N-Outs’ customers constantly evangelize the brand on social media, despite the official In-N-Out account posting less than 12 Instagrams a year on average, minimal engagement through Facebook, and a Twitter account that hasn’t posted since 2011.
Similar brands such as Trader Joes and Sriracha hot sauce don’t have any official social media accounts, but also have massive followings of diehard fans and casual customers.
Focus on curating the best possible product and brand experience first. This way, even if you don’t do any social media marketing yourself, your customers can take care of that for you.
Balancing Big Time Growth With Small Time Quality
Not all brands, however, choose to avoid social media. Levain Bakery is a wildly popular NYC bakery with several locations that consistently draws block-long lines of hungry locals and tourists, and best fits the best worst-kept secret archetype.
While best worst-kept secrets are also oftentimes cult favorites like old school artisans, they embrace social media.
Because best worst-kept secrets are oftentimes regional favorites that want to grow their brand awareness beyond their core audiences, their social media strategies have to balance self-promotion for new audiences while still maintaining brand authenticity with existing ones.
To do this, best social media practices typically include making the brand accessible by reposting articles and user-generated photos, but also crafting in-house curated brand content that can appeal to national audiences. As the brand grows in awareness, typically the mix of content starts to skew towards the latter.
This social media strategy is often used in conjunction with limited supplies to increase hype and demand, as well as maintain brand authenticity. This tactic is not limited to any one industry, with brands such as Supreme and Dominique Ansel utilizing this tactic to remain popular and authentic amongst their core audiences amidst massive popularity and growth.
For any regional businesses hoping to grow their brand, curating the appropriate mix between outside and in-house social media content are critical to maintaining brand authenticity and creating greater awareness.
Collaborating With Customers
Any business owner can easily tell you that knowing your audience is a key to building a successful business.
But not everyone can tell you that they built an audience of nearly 1 million customers before they even built a business, as Emily Weiss did when she launched her brand Glossier in 2014, four years after starting Into the Gloss, a popular beauty blog that Emily started while a fashion assistant at Vogue.
As a collaborative communicator, Glossier is a prime example of a truly Millennial and customer-centric company to its very core. By first accruing a large, devoted following through Into The Gloss, when the time came to launch a cosmetics line, Emily was able to simply ask her massive base of readers what they wanted out of their cosmetics.
Product immediately sold out upon launch, and even after Glossier raised tens in millions in Series A and B funding, Glossier has continued to talk to and empower its customers to share their love for the brand by making sure that all their products are social media ready, with modern and minimalist packaging that pops off the screen.
Another brand that has taken a similar approach to building its businesses is Articles of Style, which started with a highly successful menswear blog that eventually transformed into a bespoke menswear brand that also provides fashion tips for its key audiences.
It’s never too late to build your brand, and writing a blog with regular, relevant, and insightful content, as a part of your social media strategy, is always a great way to connect with your audiences, at any stage of your business.
When Corporates Play It Cool
When it comes to being a big corporation, social media marketing managers often struggle to find the right approach to relating to younger audiences. And while everyone wants to sound relatable, doing so means taking risks and potentially offending someone, however well-intentioned.
But sometimes corporations manage to establish themselves as a cool corporate, as Wendy’s did in the first month of 2017 when it decided to pursue a sharp and biting tone of voice on Twitter, with its witty responses instantly going viral and winning the respect of people everywhere. In addition to casually insulting its own customers in a witty way, Wendy’s also has had no problem taking down its competition. When asked by a customer “What should I get at McDonalds?” Wendy’s replied with “Better at picking a place to eat.”
And while other companies in other industries, such as Verizon, have tried to get in on the act, 9 times out of 10 it feels inauthentic, with cringe-worthy tweets like “Yes @Tmobile, we’re into BDSM. Bigger coverage map, Devastating Speed, and Massive capacity.”
The key to Wendy’s success was that it created a distinctive tone of voice that reflects its “challenger with charm” brand positioning. By staying consistent throughout its brand expression, Wendy’s has been able to cut through the noise of corporate Twitter and connect with younger audiences.
Don’t try and be cool for the sake of it. When talking to target audiences, don’t sacrifice your brand integrity for short-term gains. Craft a distinctive tone of voice that is consistent with your core brand values and positioning. Use social media to build on your brand positioning, not contradict it with inauthentic “hip” tweets!
Selling The Aspirational Dream
Although big fast food corporates may be interested making themselves more relatable, in some industries, companies prefer the opposite approach.
Particularly in the world of true luxury, where exclusivity is a critical value to be upheld and cherished, brands are very careful in how they choose to engage with their audiences. And while you’d be hard-pressed to see Raf Simons or Rolls Royce chatting on Twitter with regular customers on everyday matters like store location, luxury brands still connect with and engage with their customers – just in a different way.
Striking the fine line between exclusivity and making oneself is a difficult task, but as a digital dream weaver, Burberry has managed to accomplish exactly this to astounding success. Frequently cited as one of the first luxury brands to embrace the power of digital, Burberry has fully leveraged the power of digital to build a highly creative, consistent, and flawlessly executed world, accessible through virtually every digital platform, from the main website to Apple TV, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and more.
From promoting a new mascara line by collaborating with Pinterest to being the first luxury brand to utilize Snapchat’s Discovery feature to promote Mr. Burberry, Burberry has effectively used the power of digital and social media to create a multi-faceted world that is more transparent to all, but still remains relatively exclusive at the same time through its pricing and brand.
In the fast-moving world of fashion, however, Burberry has been recently overshadowed by the recent resurgence of Gucci. Reincarnated from its overbranded and cheapened ashes, under the leadership of Alessandro Michele, Gucci has managed to completely reinvent itself and its brand for a new youthful generation, embracing Instagram, Snapchat, and in an ironic twist, a graffiti artist named Guccighost.
For a true lifestyle brand, utilizing a digital omnichannel approach is one of the best ways to make your brand vision a reality , enabling you to engage with your customers at multiple touchpoints in an authentic way and drive brand loyalty.