Effective communications are at the core of any good brand strategy. Marketing messages need to be relevant, timely and engaging. But it’s equally important that messages are delivered with a consistent brand voice. Consistent voice and tone help to convey a brand’s personality, and ultimately shape the image consumers have of the brand. Social media channels serve as a powerful extension of that voice. They also create a consistency challenge.
Emerging forms of media have redefined the way brands and consumers communicate. Brand conversations now happen in real-time, and comments (good and bad) have the potential to be shared exponentially. As a result, it is imperative that brands effectively monitor and participate in conversations about their brand online. This is not only good for image building, it’s good for the bottom line. The Internet Advertising Bureau found that 90 percent of consumers would recommend a brand to others after interacting with them on social media. This means that brands need to be nimble, engaging and yes – consistent. But how can large companies maintain a consistent social media voice 24 hours a day?
For large brands, it’s common to have a staff of employees that are responsible for maintaining social media channels. For example, Gatorade has a team of employees that monitor brand mentions around the clock. From its Mission Control in Chicago, employees participate in brand conversations, analyze data and monitor consumer sentiment. And while there is a large staff involved, messages from Gatorade’s Twitter and Facebook pages maintain a surprising consistency of voice, tone and imagery. The video below is an impressive look at how Gatorade’s Mission Control operates.
Another brand, Delta Airlines, has a similar monitoring system. In its Social Media Lab in Atlanta, Delta monitors activity across its multiple social channels. Staffed with employees from reservations, customer service and corporate communications, Delta is able to respond to consumers on social media with one of the fastest response times in the industry.
However, unlike Gatorade, Delta maintains a separate voice across each of its social channels. For example, its three Twitter accounts: @Delta, @DeltaAssist and @DeltaNewsroom each perform a distinct marketing function. The customer service dialogue on @DeltaAssist is far different than the marketing messages on @Delta or the press fodder from @DeltaNewsroom. Each channel provides a different customer experience.
So on one hand, we have Gatorade that provides consistent messaging across social media. Its social channels use a consistent voice and maintain synergy with the brand’s other marketing communications. On the other hand we have Delta; a brand that uses different brand voices for different social media functions. In my opinion, both brands are doing it right, and here’s why.
Smart brands are focused on providing a consistent brand experience. While Delta may not use the same voice across all of its channels, it remains consistent within each account. By separating its marketing functions into three Twitter accounts, Delta provides a clarity of purpose for each, which reduces clutter and confusion. While they are not the only brand to do this (Zappos comes to mind), Delta benefits by catering to the business needs of the consumer. By streamlining customer service functions into @DeltaAssist, the airline is able to maintain a consistent brand voice on @Delta, and avoid associating the brand with customer service complaints.
Successful brands on social media provide content that is relevant and meaningful, while others yield to familiarity and repetition. Consumers want interaction with brands. We want a consistent brand experience, engaging content AND great customer service. Social media tools like Twitter provide brands with the means to provide all of the above. And sometimes, that might require a distinctive voice for each channel.
What do you think? Does social media help communicate a brand’s voice? Or does it create more of a consistency challenge?