I don’t know about you, but I have an online presence everywhere – Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Pandora, Blogs, Spotify, a Myspace I can’t delete, and more. Corporations and non-profits like the Ad Council aren’t so different. With all these different ways to use the Internet and, more importantly, represent yourself, it’s becoming harder to maintain a consistent brand image. But with this increased difficulty in keeping a brand’s message consistent across multiple, varied platforms comes the potential to exploit the opportunity for a much stronger brand.
Some brands think that they should use every social platform the same way. If a Facebook post says, “Product X launches today!” so will their tweet and Google+ post (once G+ allows brands that is). This isn’t the kind of brand consistency I’m talking about. That’s just lazy. Do you want to have a lazy brand? Didn’t think so. Rather, brands need to have innovative ways exploit the very best of each platform. If they all did the same thing there wouldn’t be a need to have more than one. Despite their similarities, social platforms have definitive strengths and weaknesses.
Facebook, for instance, is amazing with contests thanks to their support of widgets. Twitter, on the other hand, may be a much better place for engaging people or addressing concerns. When Google+ allows corporate pages, Hangouts (video conferences between up to 10 people) will challenges brands to engage their customers face-to-face – a first for social media. Capitalizing on these innate advantages will only help to round out a brand, not fragment it. For instance, a consumer who doesn’t like the way Facebook works isn’t going to follow that brand on twitter if they treat it like Facebook. But they will follow it if it uses Twitter “the right way.”
It may not be possible for a brand to have a unique presence on every platform, and that’s okay. It’s better to do one thing well than several only kinda well. There’s an expectation that brands use every medium available to them, and while corporate brands certainly have a lot to gain, non-profits are the ones who should be paying the most attention. Successful corporate branding achieves purchases. Successful non-profit branding demands engagement and activism from its supporters.
While an understanding of the platform the brand is using is vital, a genuine desire to collaborate with the very people who make a non-profit successful rewards everyone. The brand is strengthened and supported through customer loyalty while the customer is rewarded with the rush of feeling like they matter. By keeping this consistent brand image across varying venues of dispersal, brands will get the very most out of their social media budgets. And hey, customers might like it a lot too.