By Justin Surber
For businesses in today’s ever-connected world of social media, where the loudest, most outlandish voices often drive the conversation, there must be a strong temptation to jump into the fray and try to drive that next “viral” post. After all, brands like Red Bull, Taco Bell, Arby’s, JetBlue and countless others have seen noticeable upticks in engagement and brand affinity due to their excellent social media presence. Rival and emerging companies must accept and embrace the new world of brand engagement and build a social media strategy that can not only engage consumers, but also remains true to the brand’s core values and beliefs.
Google Analytics and other data services can serve as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they provide invaluable data about a company’s visitors, customers, and engagement levels that allow for true optimization and improvement in areas that are clearly lacking. However, this data can lead to a case where the business is allowing its customers to drive the brand message, rather than the honing of a solid brand image and message driving consumer and brand loyalty. As Jeremy Darlow, noted brand architect behind Adidas’ recent resurgence, recently posted on twitter, “Great brands start with great stories.” No amount of data or insights will help without a core story and message that your brand wants to pass on to consumers.
Consider the case of Dove, the global personal care brand. Rather than diving straight into the analytics and numbers and responding with content they believed customers wanted, they started with a mission: help young people overcome body image issues by building positive body confidence and self-esteem. All of their advertising and social media campaigns were built around this core message, and then data was used to refine and perfect the message, rather than the other way around. This has led Dove to be recognized many times over as one of the best companies in the world at utilizing social media, despite rarely making posts or sharing videos that we traditionally think of as “viral”.
No matter what industry your business resides in or what size it is, strong branding and a core message must be top of mind always. Only after fully developing your brand identity should a company really start utilizing the litany of analytics and data tools available to refine and perfect that messaging. Otherwise, your brand will inevitably end up allowing the customer to control your messaging, and that rarely leads to success in a world where authenticity and strong branding are prized above everything else.