Two Faces for Facebook?

When is it appropriate to show multiple brand personalities in social media?

A client had an interesting question. Their events management business, based at a beautiful, unique location, hosts all kinds of events, from weddings to corporate meetings. They wanted to know, with these very different audiences, should they use one Facebook page to build the brand, or two separate pages which might not be as brand-centric, but would better serve the target audiences?

Opinions from digital marketing and brand marketing professionals varied. They generally had an immediate response, as though the answer were obvious, but their answers differed. Some said it should be one page, others said two.

The one-page argument pointed out that it puts everything in one place, is easier to manage for a team with limited time and budget to keep the page updated, and it would be easier to ensure optimal SEO. All practical considerations, especially for a small business. They also pointed out that if the brand were broken into two pages, it could cause people to pigeonhole them as only a wedding venue, or only a business events venue. Viewers would miss the complete story.

The two-page advocates admitted that it added management complications and would demand additional, precious man-hours to keep the content fresh. That’s especially challenging in a small business where people already wear multiple hats. They weren’t as concerned that people would only get half of the brand offerings if they only saw one page or the other. They pointed out that each page should reference the other with fresh updates for both.

Back to fundamentals: know your audience and speak their language.

The more complicated marketing gets, the more important it is to practice the fundamentals. In this case, that meant putting the target audiences first, and asking, “What’s important to our clients?”

An excited bride-to-be, searching for her dream wedding location, is not going to be inspired by a Facebook page that shows updates with pictures of pinstripe suited executives. Likewise, a business meeting planner will not be comfortable recommending a potential location to his boss if it looks like bridal bouquets will be flying through the air. Because these target audiences are so different, they demand a dedicated page for each segment.

Yes, this means more staff time invested in social media. But here’s the thing with social: it’s, well, social. Social settings demand certain appearances and behaviors. Most of us dress and talk differently in an important business meeting than we do for a Saturday evening cookout with the neighbors. Likewise, companies participating in social media, especially a personal channel like Facebook (as opposed to a professional channel like LinkedIn), need to consider the situation and participate accordingly.

Just as in real life, be socially appropriate for the situation.

Like real life, there is no perfect answer. Weigh your options, make a decision, and then monitor and measure. Remember, too, that you can always change it and try a different way. The beauty of online content is that you can test different tactics to learn what works best.

What is Branding?

What is Branding?

It’s remarkable how blurred the language and understanding is for branding, considering it’s a discipline that demands clarity and focus. Smart, well-educated business people interchange terms like branding, marketing and advertising as if it were all the same thing.
Branding is the ongoing activity that creates experiences and strengthens the bonds between people and a company. In other words, it’s taking a brand and making something positive happen with it. It’s a verb. So the deeper question becomes, what’s a brand? What’s this thing we’re going to “ing”?

What is a Brand?

A brand is a mental experience or expectation that is created from a company’s personality, values, character and actions.

When you think about Apple, your mental experience is very different than when you think about Microsoft. The two are radically different in their root brand elements. That’s why they can create products that may serve the same purpose, yet are vastly different from each other.

A brand is not:

  • A logo
  • A tagline
  • An advertisement

Those are representations of brands, but they are not the brand itself. In the 1900’s, those items were considered to be the brand, and branding was the process of plastering them wherever possible. In more recent years the strategy of creating “customer brand experiences” became the big buzz. But today branding is far more complicated and more fundamental to business success. It has moved out of the marketing department and is a key strategy to compete and thrive, a cornerstone of company structure.

Branding is a Critical Business Process

Why has this happened? The competitive dynamics and the number of choices for customers have exploded. The information revolution, coupled with the ongoing technology revolution, has empowered customers and employees to publicly call out companies that are not authentic to their brand promise.

If the sales department is bragging to customers about the great service their company provides, but the service technician posts a comment on Facebook telling how the company cuts corners on replacement parts quality, the brand credibility is damaged. Whereas word-of-mouth once meant telling a dozen or so people about your brand experience, now it means telling thousands or millions with online reviews.

That same information revolution mentioned above has flooded us with too much content to process. Our brains are structured to filter information without us being consciously aware of it. So we use brands as neural shorthand to quickly filter and categorize: important or not important, dangerous or safe, valuable or worthless. A weak brand is not likely to penetrate those filters. (Or at least, you’ll need some really smart marketing to do so, but that’s another blog.)

The Bottom Line

Branding is a fundamental, strategic discipline that is not just for the marketing department. It’s an enterprise-wide initiative that must be created and driven from the top. The companies that employ it effectively will gain significant competitive advantages and enjoy greater profitability.

If you are wondering how your company can build a powerful brand that drives growth, perhaps a conversation with us will help. Let’s talk.