Does Social Media Even Have Standards?

Brandscore | Mar 24, 2014 8:01:21 AM

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Finding the right tone for one’s business has been the subject of countless blog posts and articles over the years, and for good reason. When businesses began using social media, marketers had very little precedent to help them establish the right tone of different businesses and industries. Over the years, brands have adopted tons of different voices, some more successful than others, but the initial experimentation has led to the establishment of some important standards.

For starters, when brands began using social media, the big question was “what do we post”. Once they figured out the “what”, the next problem was tackling the “when” and “why”. It’s easy to take these aspects of a social campaign for granted, but when we think back as to how many studies and arguments went into understanding something as simple as the best time to post, it’s easy to see why these standards have become so important.

Just getting the message out there was a good starting point, but over time brands began tweaking their messages and bending social to meet their needs. That meant that single tweets could go viral—as was the case with Oreo’s super bowl tweet—or entire strings of updates could create a running narrative, JC Penney’s use of garbled tweets to promote their mittens.

All the while, brands continued to tweak their tones with the understanding that posting a new update was different than responding to individual tweets or Facebook comments. When it came to tone, this was uncharted territory. Communicating the value of one brand over another harkens back to the early days of modern advertising. The difference from then up till now is that brand messaging used to be a one-way street.

Social media and the web flipped that script, and for the first time brands had to find the right tone for talking directly to their customers. A few years in, you might say that brands have finally become comfortable talking with their customers, although that’s surely caused some problems in the short-term.

And so the voices and tones used by brands continue to change. Sometimes the tone of a social campaign affects larger TV and print campaigns; other times the opposite is true.

Social media can now be variously used to promote entire products on its own or as a supplement to widespread TV and print campaigns. Social updates have become infused with images and videos, and people can even advertise in the feeds themselves, adding yet another layer to the complexity and refinement of social marketing.

The point is that none of this just came to be. All of the marketing we see online is the result of countless experimentation, some more effective than others, but all worthy of being judged and then refined or tossed out. And if we’re lucky, the next five years will usher in even more standards so that we can stop wasting so much time—or maybe we’ll even find out that all this “wasted time” is actually a standard already and an important part of the creation process. Regardless, you have to know the history in order to place yourself in the future, and that’s what we’re trying to do here at Brandify.

Topics: Social

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