Welcome to Part 3 of my three-part series on adding personality to your online marketing strategy.

Let’s do a quick recap:

  • Part 1 introduced the idea of adding personality to marketing and hopefully convinced you it was worth trying. It also went startlingly viral and scared me a little bit.
  • Part 2 gave you concrete tips to adding personality to your content marketing strategy as well as introduced the concept of “head and shoulders” content — a term I trademarked.

Part 3 will dive into the world of social media, giving you four strategies to incorporate your own brand persona and your brand’s targeted individual into your social media communications.

Introducing personality in social media

The phrase “putting the social in social media” is one of the most tired in the world of online marketing, so I won’t use it.

That said, with the rise of social media optimization (optimizing your website, social profiles and content for social media), putting personality into social media is actually increasing in importance every day. Your content (and your site) will see a solid return from your business incorporating its own personality into your communication.

Of course adding personality to your social media posts equals more social endorsements, but more than that, it equals genuine affection between business and consumer. That genuine affection translates into real-world returns. Check it out, and thanks to Mashable for the stats:

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So let’s take a look at four distinct strategies that add personality, likeability, and friendliness to your social profiles.

1. Posts from your brand persona

I’ll reiterate one more time for those just tuning in, whenever I talk about adding personality to your marketing strategy I’m not talking about your personality (you, right now, at your desk with your shoes off and a nagging urge for caffeine). Rather, I’m talking about your brand persona.

That brand persona is refined by your business’ target market, or, better yet, your target individual. What does your business’ target individual look like, and how can you relate to them on a personal level on social media?

Is your brand persona on social a faceless, nameless robot who responds succinctly and professionally to every comment and dutifully posts at 7a.m., 11a.m. and 3 p.m. EST every day? Or, is your brand persona a huge fan of the Seattle Seahawks, thinks Russell Wilson is the second coming and is well-known for its witty postings on Friday afternoons about their weekend plans?

Here are a couple examples from Old Spice and Charmin on Twitter:

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If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, I highly recommend tapping into your customer’s location-based pride (sports teams, for instance). Holidays, Fridays, Mondays, etc. — all these can be taken advantage of to create commiseration or excitement with your social platform followers.

Once again, though, test your brand persona before jumping in head first.

2. Posts about them

Showing you value the opinion of your Fans and your customers is a huge part of creating a friendly and likeable profile on social media.

Of tested Facebook users, 33% say they feel listened to more on the platform than they do in any other exchange with a business. Cultivating this idea (of social platforms as a place where brands really listen to their customers) increases brand loyalty and real-world sales.

5 ways to listen to your customers:

  • Ask questions: Questions beget answers. Answers, on social, are currency (Seriously, consider that the more comments your Facebook Post garners, the more your Fans see that post, thereby increasing your brand reach on the platform).
  • Ask for recommendations/user feedback: Show you care about your customers by asking them what they think of your business’ new dashboard, your new landing page or a new product. If possible, include a picture of before and after to increase engagement.
  • Ask opinions: Ask controversial or “either/or” questions that people just have to respond to. Where applicable, state your own opinions (for example, sports or event-focused) and keep the conversation spirited but light.
  • Post how you’ve listened to customers feedback: If you’ve had a customer complaint or comment in your customer service log, over the phone, or on your social media profile itself, solve the issue and then create a post saying something like “Thanks to John for his comments about Salesforce integration. We’ve sorted it out and you should be good to go! We always appreciate your feedback, so keep it coming!”
  • Respond to your responses: I’ll get into this a bit more in No. 4 below, but it’s absolutely essential that you respond to your post’s comments. There’s nothing better than showing you’re listening to your consumer by actually responding to what they’re saying. Again, frame your responses based on your brand persona. Should you be funny or professional? Slightly teasing or empathetic?

Here’s a few Facebook posting stats to remind you of how that whole thing works (if you’ve forgotten for some reason):

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Cheers to Quicksprout for the stats on this one.

3. User-generated content

Officially my favorite strategy in social media marketing ever, user-generated content (or UGC for those acronym fans out there) is the bee’s knees.

UGC gets more engagement than brand generated content, creates a buzz around your business and, more importantly, inspires your customers, users or Fans to spread the word about your business (and who doesn’t love a little word-of-mouth marketing?).

UGC is cost effective (given that it costs your business nothing whatsoever). It increases brand reach as everybody who created the content has a vested interest in its spread, and (so long as the UGC features your products) the people who contribute UGC must already be customers of your business.

For me, though, UGC is valuable most because it creates trust between your possible customers and your business. I mentioned in the first part of this series how incredibly important trust is within the consumer decision-making process. I cited Edelman data which shows that “a person like yourself” is increasingly becoming the most trusted source of brand information. UGC is all about that.

In landing page optimization we talk about the importance of customer testimonials. Including a quote from one of your satisfied customers can improve the conversion rate of your website by more than 50%, easy. User generated content is the customer testimonial of the social media world. It’s someone other than your business saying your business is awesome. Sometimes, it’s better to just step out of the way and let your loyal customers do the talking.

Here’s an example from Ben & Jerry’s UGC-dominated Instagram profile:

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Note the top comment from “elielovesyou” absolutely begging for Ben & Jerry’s to post the picture she sent to the ice cream company. Yes, that is 11 exclamation points.

5 strategies to get user-generated content:

  • Ask for photo entries that feature one of your products, feature the photos on your Instagram or Facebook Pages or your website.
  • Collaborate with fans on branded Pinterest boards or around an Instagram or Twitter Hashtag.
  • Offer incentives for a customer to send in photos or experiences based around a product or service.
  • Create fill-in-the-blank Facebook or Twitter posts and incentivize engagement. Feature the most creative response on your Page or Profile.
  • Inspire new ideas internally with fun company competitions that you can share on social platforms.

4. Responding to negative personality

Having an open-armed brand profile on social media invites negative responses, it’s unavoidable. Rare is the business who has never experienced a “you scammed me!” comment, or random internet “troll” who gets their kicks from kicking your business.

Dealing with negative personalities and negative comments is part of the game, and it’s absolutely essential that you respond in the right way. Remember that, on the Internet, people are always watching (OK, that wasn’t supposed to be so creepy. You know what I’m talking about).

5 tips for dealing with negative comments and personalities:

  • Respond quickly: The quicker you reply, the more visibly caring you are. The last thing you want is a negative comment sitting unattended to be viewed and added to or agreed with.
  • If the issue is complex, take it off social: Offer to continue the dialogue via email, phone or your customer support team. If they respond to your request with more aggressive comments, repeat your request calmly.
  • Remain calm and avoid getting defensive: People who post aggressive complaints on social media have either exhausted all other outlets or want the exchange to be public. This makes for a difficult person to talk to. No matter what happens or what they say, do not be publicly defensive. Yell, scream and curse in your office, but remain professional and “chill” in your public responses.
  • Don’t delete negative comments: Unless there’s inappropriate language or utterly ridiculous accusations, avoid deleting negative comments. Dealing with “trolls” or very angry customers with aplomb, poise and professionalism will actually make your business look better, and the customer foolish.
  • Get creative: Negative comments can be an opportunity. As I mentioned above, responding intelligently and professionally can make your business look better than the negative comment having never occurred. But more than that, finding ways to turn it around or make it humorous (remember your brand persona I mentioned above) can be a huge win for your company.

Oh, and, of course, if you do manage to satisfy the displeased customer, try to publicize your success, so that people know the case is closed.

Conclusion

I guess that’s it. That’s my three-part series on putting personality into online marketing. Thanks for reading (and for those of you who stuck with me from the beginning).

Remember to cultivate a brand persona that works with your target individual before you cultivate a brand persona that you think fits your brand. You might be surprised how people respond to your business on social and in content if you throw a little spice their way.

397262_873994497086_1355010839_nHave you integrated a brand persona into your social media posts and communication? How about your content creation? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

James Scherer is a content marketer for Wishpond and author of the ebook The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads. Wishpond makes it easy to run Facebook Ads, create landing pages & contests, email automation campaigns & manage all of your business’ contacts.

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