Author: Alasdair Munn
One-way or broadcast/display advertising and messaging has to rely on creating brand perceptions and reinforcing ideals. Campaigns are built around maximising the power and reach of the message against a set amount of time, or display space.
When this approach is taken out of this context and supplanted into a multidirectional relationship context, setting out to create a perception can be viewed as manipulative or forced. The rules and expectations around messaging and relationships change.
Many big brands are exceptional at creating perceptions and broadcasting their values and messaging. Understanding how people react to language, colour, design, lighting and messaging is a science. Positioning and the use of “trust” figures have become an industry in itself. The business case for outstanding back-up, customer service and client policy is well understood and executed.
Broadcast media works for consumers because we know the rules. We are happy to play this game. Our affinity towards a brand is as much to do with what our association with the brand says about us, as how we perceive the brand.
The challenge for many comes when adapting to building relationships using social media tools and approaches. Apart from the lack of consensus and understanding around the use of social media, an organisation’s inability to move from a broadcast mentality to a relationship mentality will let them down.
There is an unwritten psychological contract between individuals and brands when organisations open themselves up to establishing relationships using social media. We talk about transparency, trust, truth, openness, listening, dialogue and approachability. Organisations are paying strategists to tell them these things. Yet, often there is a broadcast mentality hanging over their approach to these concepts.
“How can we develop the perception of openness and transparency?”
“What colour says ‘approachable’?”
“How do we leverage our social media participation?”
In reality it is much simpler. If you use your social media channels to listen, and you are indeed listening and act accordingly, people will think of you as an organisation that listens. If you tell the truth, avoid half truths and resist the urge to manipulate facts, there is a better than average chance that you will be seen as an organisation that can be trusted to tell the truth. If you are transparent you will be seen as transparent.
The upside to all of this is that your brand, product or service will benefit from being informed, up to date and relevant for its market.