Branding is how you show people the personality of your business. Businesses without branding come across as impersonal monoliths that are defined by their products. That works out OK for the cable company since they’re basically a monopoly, but for businesses that are trying to compete with each other it helps to have a personal touch. Social media can have a major effect on your brand's image, both for good and ill. There are a few very specific ways that businesses often misuse social media, so here are a few ways to ruin your brand that you need to watch out for.
Find any local businesses that you know of on twitter or Facebook and take a look at what they post. Odds are good that almost everything they post is their own blog posts, press releases, or products. There won’t be any interaction with regular people, and there won’t be any indication that there’s a person on the other end; every post, comment, and interaction will directly or indirectly be designed to sell something or advertise a product.
Treating your social media like a billboard is like being the pyramid scheme salesman in your circle of friends. You’re trying to charm your way into everyone’s wallets, but you’re not fooling anyone.
We naturally distance ourselves when we’re trying to represent our business, and that prevents customers from making personal connections with our brands. Using a lot of passive voice, avoiding “I” statements, using fancy grammar, and not engaging in general conversation in social media about non-business related topics are a couple of good examples.
Acting like you’re not human is a great way to not be perceived as one. It’s not a waste of your time to tweet your approval at a follower who posted something funny, or to post a quick opinion about what you thought of a movie that just came out.
Probably the most obvious ways we’ve seen some major corporations destroy their brands involve badly mishandling criticism. For some reason businesses often act like 3-year olds when we’re caught doing something wrong. For example, Delta Airlines was recently called out for strongly and ridiculously insinuating that Emirates, Etihar, and Qatar Airways were involved in the events of 9/11. When they were confronted about this by the media they responded with the standard non-apology, “...we apologize if anyone was offended.” Obviously they were offended, that statement is designed to imply that there is no reason to be offended.
Issuing a genuine apology instead of insinuating that the offended party is being unreasonable is a great way to show everyone that you’re bigoted and don’t care about other people in general.
Branding is hard, but protecting yourself from destructive anti-branding
is relatively simple; just act like a real person who behaves in a
socially acceptable manner.