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Is your brand missing in your brand’s social media strategy?


Does your content strategy struggle between being interesting and on-brandsimultaneously?

It’s a recurring theme in all our conversations with those in the social media space.That an alarmingly high percentage of the work is tactical and low on strategic brand value. As we went around looking for a point of view on how to shape content that would be ‘branded’, we drew a frustrating blank. Across workshops, websites,books on the subject, informal coffee shop chats... And it shows in bulk of the work around us.

Unlike the force-it-down-their-throat TVCs, where a one way message could get away with anything, the more democratic social media is causing a dilemma for brands. Push the product spiel and it hardly passes muster. Push for popularity and you wonder what’s the brand connection! More often than not, brands seem to try a ‘combination’ approach hoping their selling spiel will get tolerated as they intersperse it with ‘interesting, popular’ content. The resulting effort - understandably disjointed.

One of the views of ‘new branding’ (propounded by respectable sources in the branding world) argues that the days of consistent brand idea are over. Brands now need to be more opportunistic and move from one idea to another looking for whatever gets the buzz with their audience.

At the risk of sounding old fashioned, am not sure one buys into this thinking. Even as times change, one aspect that hasn’t changed is the way human mind understands and accepts brands.It is by being able to ‘slot’ them in simple and unique positions. Mess with either the simplicity or uniqueness and the mind prefers to reject it rather than accommodate the new information.

Notice how every big Bollywood or Hollywood star is slotted (he-man, angry young man, naughty lover…) and how the more ‘versatile actors’ who resist this slotting almost invariably remain smaller stature.And some of them never really escape the slot that came from one of their more successful roles (think Manoj Bajpayee and Bhikhu Mahatre).

So to our minds the dilemma remains for brand managers and social media experts – their content needs to be BOTH – audience interesting and brand relevant and consistent.

Looking at social media strategy frameworks by various consultancies, you notice a couple of interesting missing pieces. Almost none of them have a place for a) the brand’s idea (or core essence or whatever you prefer to call it) and b) its insight! Majority seem to jump from objectives to content strategy!

So we set about developing our own framework, putting the brand right at the core. As we did that and stepped back to assess it, the reason for the problem became self-evident.

Most brands struggle with interesting content that is on-brand, because their idea and insight is not in line with what today’s branding calls for.

More than ever before, brands need to define their idea beyond the confines of just their product. Great brands always got that. Be it Coke, Nike, Apple or Dove (yeah the usual suspects) they did not need the pressures of social media to think large in defining their brand and insight. What social media has done is made it non-negotiable for others!

Today the absence of a well defined idea in brand strategy gets exposed more brutally as the brand steps up on the social media platform. So here’s the nub:

If your content strategy struggles between being interesting and on-brand simultaneously, it is time to take a hard look at your brand’s idea. Maybe that’s what is missing!

Sure - you might have articulated a response to ‘what does my brand stand for?’ but it may not be an idea in its true sense.

We found that the moment the idea get defined well, generating an almost endless stream of audience relevant and on-brand content became automatic and almost effortless.