“And here is the host of our show …”
What if a brand could draw attention like a reality show? The brands reality show?
In the past, I have said that brands need to think like publishers. But now I am going to take this one step further. Brands need to have a “social host.”
So let’s look at a couple of brands that have a “personality” front. Consider Progressive Insurance. Many of us know “Flo.” Progressive has managed to take a boring brand category (insurance) and kick some personality into it. Next, think of Ford Motor’s use of Mike Rowe – a somewhat known celebrity. Both Ford and Progressive have managed to make their potential audience feel a bit closer to their brand by injecting a spokesperson for the brand.
And this is exactly where brands need to take their social presence. Both Flo and Mike Rowe act like a “host” for the brands. So why not have a social host. Someone that acts on behalf of a brand to deliver useful information, entertainment, and becomes the brand’s real personal presence.
What I am suggesting is that brands need a real brand host as well as content coming from the brand manager’s point of view. The brand host extends the voice, presence, and feel of the brand to increase the attractiveness of the brand. Most brands are overly cautious with regards to an informal voice. While this is understandable, the informality is what allows common people to connect. Thus the perfect solution is to maintain a brand voice AND have a more informal brand social host. Both can have presence in the brand’s social channels and the balance of brand voice and host voice will draw deeper audience relationships.
How important is the personality of the host? Let’s look at some non-social examples … some reality shows and then you decide. Currently there are three singing competitions on TV. American Idol, The X Factor, and The Voice. Basically they are all the same product with slight “product feature” differentiation. But the one thing that makes them very different to the audience is the personalities of the hosts and judges. When you think about it, this is what really makes them compelling, or not.
Social strategists should take some direction from these singing competitions. If you represent a brand here are a handful of suggestions:
1) Have a genuine understanding for your audience’s likes, wants, and needs.
2) Determine the type of content that will be perceived compelling and desirable by the audience.
3) Consider the type of person that will be strong, inspirational, and personable for the brand audience.
4) Re-examine the brand position and what the brand stands for.
5) Have comfort in stretching the brand presence. This is one of the main purposes of having a social brand host. Let the brand speak as the brand and the social host speak as an extension. As an extension, they should stretch the brand voice.
6) Select your social host and let them loose. LET THEM LOOSE – take some risks.
In looking at the suggestions above, take note that the main emphasis is on the audience and appealing to them. This is the priority. Put the brand speak aside.
I know many will be uncomfortable taking this “social host” approach I suggest. Many will say that the voice of the brand must be solely brand speak. I will tell you that this is legacy minded marketing. Recognize that the digital world has dramatically changed the way the target audience reacts to brand marketing. It is not even a matter of being bold anymore. It is a matter of being relevant. Having the right social host will be a step in the relevance direction.
Make It Happen,