It’s very easy to let our values drift in our day-to-day social media activity, and be driven by events and our own thoughtlessness, rather than a strategy.
Spotting the warning signs
I’m always interested to see what triggers emotional response and action in people, it’s a large part of what I do and I’m constantly learning. We currently have extreme hot weather in the UK, with a mixture of advice and media opinion causing debate. I’m seeing a lot of social interaction, much of it quite scathing about “over-reaction” and “common sense”. What can we learn?
1. Negative reaction is more easily provoked than positive.
2. We’re very tribal, with a strong desire to support our “camp’s viewpoint”
3. We are a society where we feel the need to use our personal voice to counter broadcast messaging that doesn’t fit our personal values.
4. We’re not great at considering situations other than our own.
It’s so easy to be triggered by these factors. Before we know it we’ve followed the tone and posted something which we might later regret. Or, even more dangerous, we don’t see any obvious consequences and start to think there are none. Social algorithms promote based on interaction, and we can see above what produces it. So how can we work with that?
Address consequence in your brand planning
It’s easy to find the whole system rather distasteful and stay out of it. But in business we can’t really afford to “cut off our nose to spite our face” and let our competitors have all the attention.
We have a choice to make, depending on what type of brand we are. There really is no right and wrong here, just intention and consequence. One way of looking at that choice is to see it as being between overt tribalism, or making a stand for nuance. If you want to be seen as strong and principled, lean into these discussions and stand your ground. There is considerable advantage in generating engagement, as long as the positive consequences outweigh the negative.
Personally, that doesn’t work for Sufu. Why? Because our brand is about being persuasive, not dogmatic, and it would be entirely off brand for us to be seen as closed-minded in any way. We want to be empathic. That doesn’t mean I should stay silent. It just means I need to stand up, not for a single point of view, but for the nuance that exists between points of view. In these polarised times, that can be as powerful a brand statement as taking an entrenched position.
Sometimes I might feel I really do need to stand up for something that is “right”. It’s important your audience know what your moral compass is, and where the line exists that you won’t cross. But it takes a proper plan to avoid flip-flopping between the two (just look at how our politics veers between the two on a daily basis). And, in larger organisations, how do you balance the tricky line between a brand voice and the voices of employees who might reflect on the brand through their personal comms?
Get in touch if you’d like fresh perspective on handling these issues within your brand marketing.