If you talk brand strategy for long enough, the old adage ‘fish where the fish are’ is likely to rear it’s head. It’s a classic because it’s true.

These days social media happens to be one of the largest and most accessible ponds out there. For that reason it’s an irresistible channel for brands of all shapes and sizes. The result, however, can be a lot of noise with little actual impact on the consumer.

The misguided assumption brands tend to make with social is that the cost to enter the fray is low, so they can indulge in thinking people actually care about pictures of their products. Here’s the harsh reality: People don’t care about your brand when they are on social media.

Add something to the feed

Every single social media user’s feed is unique, engineered to be a reflection of their personal interests and connections, so what you are used to seeing organically is highly likely to resonate. This is why people find it so addictive, and why I see an unhealthy amount of fishing clips on Instagram – my digital footprint says I’m interested in it. However, when a brand post assumes itself upon this feed with something that doesn’t fit within your social media bubble, ‘We’re cooking spaghetti for dinner tonight, what are you cooking?’ – it is generally ignored.

Now consider the time it takes to create even relatively straightforward content, like our aforementioned spaghetti post. The image needs to composed and sized, copy-written, content uploaded, users targeted, and if you want anyone to see it at all, a budget applied. It then goes live and there is the need to respond to certain comments, moderate and then review performance.

Even at my most optimistic, it is two hours work minimum, and more if the post is actually successful. If you’re doing 15 posts a month, this can become an expensive exercise in creating noise. To combat this and make sure your social media presence actually benefits your brand, your content needs to add something to the feed; as it is always just a thumb swipe from oblivion. To achieve this it has to be entertaining, informative or inspiring.

Find your ‘brandheart’

Brands that are doing social well now spend more time on cultivating decent content and posting less frequently. A good example of why is the TV renaissance we have all been enjoying, with new players (most recently Facebook) emerging from all angles and committing billion dollar budgets to their annual production. The reason being is that On Demand allows people to be selective, and we are naturally more drawn to well produced, entertaining stories, be they 30 seconds or 12 episodes.

To get to that level, your brand needs a solid content strategy. This emerges from knowing exactly who, not what, your brand is. The more genuine personality, relevance and consistency your brand has, the more it will resonate. We spend a lot of time helping brands get into this space, as it’s really hard to get to the true heart of a brand when you’re on the inside, but discovering exactly ‘who’ your brand is really does mean the difference between good and great branding. We call it a ‘brandheart’.

This frees a brand up to be naturally distinctive, amazing, funny or whatever it is that makes it truly special. It allows you to talk to your people as a person, rather than a brand. This also streamlines the all-expensive creative process. Laddering content back to your ‘brandheart’ means you are able to draw from content streams that support your distinctive positioning. All content then supports the core identity of your brand, giving those responsible for creating it a tight set of guidelines to follow.

Be part of the conversation

Finally, remember that social is a two-way channel, and that means someone within your organisation or a third party must have responsibility for the social media activity at all times. If there is a conversation around your brand on social media, you need to know about it and ideally, you need to participate in it.

These are also the magic moments where you make a post work it’s hardest. Decent conversations within posts with your customers are surprisingly easy to cultivate and a truly powerful connection when aggregated over time… but you need to know who you are first. Do you?

Michael Evans is Digital Director at Dow Design.

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