Over the last few years, we’ve had to adapt our social media plans to fit the constantly changing social climate. We have grown so used to pivoting our plans that it’s easy to lose sight of the need for a consistent voice across all marketing channels, especially on social media.
Finding consistency within your own brand can help form strong brand and social personalities, allowing you to meet your audience where they’re at and connect with them not only when it’s profitable, but also at times when the consumer needs to be put first.
Lauren Beane, the Chief of Staff of CX Lifecycle Journeys at Cisco, will be speaking at the October Social Media Strategies Summit session titled, “Convincing Consumers to Swipe Right on Your Brand.” She’s going to talk about growing your brand’s personality, knowing how to listen to what your consumers are saying on social media and staying consistent across all channels. For her, a huge part of social media management is using empathy to connect with your audience.
Lauren was gracious enough to answer a few of my pre-event questions about social media’s impact on brands and how humanizing your brand can make all the difference.
How has the pandemic impacted the way Cisco uses social media?
We’ve always strived to take on a humanized approach on social. When the pandemic hit, we knew that it was crucial to put the needs of our customers at the forefront. Rather than pushing products, we have approached our new strategy with empathy and seeking out opportunities to provide added value to our customers during such a difficult time. For example, we developed Beyond Survival: A Small Business Resiliency Guide, which is an e-book for our small business customers that included resources on financing, marketing and tips on how to navigate their business through a pandemic.
What are the most important parts of a brand’s personality when it comes to social media and relaying a consistent message?
When developing a personality, it’s so important to keep in mind what your brand stands for, what type of content your customers crave and how you can approach your customers with that conversation. Not every brand can — or should — be as snarky as Wendy’s, but it’s important to develop a personality that aligns with your brand’s values.
What advice would you give to a young social media professional?
Try new things! There are so many new trends and channels constantly popping up, and this is a great opportunity to explore new avenues and make a really big splash with your brand and provide value to your customers.
What does having a more “human” approach to social media mean to you?
It means starting with empathy always, and listening before we post. Brands often default to scheduling several posts throughout the day and feeling like we need to constantly say something, but the best brands listen to the needs of their customers first, and develop content around those needs.
[Read More: What Is Brand Empathy? An Interview with Sarah Panus]
How do you tackle unpacking a client’s needs when they may not realize those needs themselves?
I always love to start with the why — our small business customers don’t need a router, they need connectivity to run their business. They may not know or understand which product they need, but they know that their team is working remotely and they need a way to connect securely and seamlessly. When you understand the reason behind their goals, it’s so much easier to help them identify the solution to their needs.
What work are you most proud of at Cisco?
I am definitely the most proud of our Small Business Resiliency Guide. During such a time of panic and worry, our team was able to come together and develop a guide within a matter of weeks to meet the desperate needs of our small business customers. What I love the most about the guide is there isn’t a ton of Cisco promotion in the guide — it’s full of resources, inspiration and the tools at your fingertips to allow our customers to pivot their businesses quickly and get back up and running.
You mention creating not only a brand personality, but a social personality. How do you differentiate the two?
A brand personality and social personality should be related. Your brand personality should be a bit more structured, and have clear guidelines for how you approach typography, colors, language and so on. Your social personality is a more humanized version of your brand. It should make your customers feel like they really know you and are sitting across from you sharing a cup of coffee. Think of your brand personality as the buttoned-up, professional version of yourself that you might share on LinkedIn, and your social personality as your casual, laid-back self that you share on Instagram.
How do you manage paid social, and how has paid social evolved over the last year or two?
Similar to organic social, we approach paid social with a lot more empathy. It’s also crucial that we get to the point a lot faster. Social media usage just in the past year has increased 13%, and attention spans are quickly decreasing. It’s important that we provide value to our customers within the 1.6 seconds that they consume an ad and determine if they’ll take the action to continue the relationship with us.
What are you expecting to focus on next year? How are you planning for the coming year?
We are continuing our conversations with empathy, but we are moving to a more “forward-thinking” approach. Some of our customers are returning to the office, and others will be remaining home for the foreseeable future. This means that the traditional hours of social media consumption are gone, and we need to provide value all hours of the day to meet our customers when they interact with us online.
While social media rarely has any consistency from year to year, we can count on the need to relate to clients and meet them where they’re at. Lauren Beane gives us valuable insight on how to set up your social media channels for success and approaching relationships with consumers in a more thoughtful, relatable fashion.