Putting the "Social" in Social Media

A brand is more than a name and logo. It has an image and a personality, just like a human. As marketers, we must figure out how to transform our inanimate brands into interesting, interactive beings. Our task has been made easier by the emergence of social media as a channel for interacting with customers and other people. But, we must remember that social media is only a channel, a means of connecting us with an audience.

In a recent blog post "Social Can't Succeed without Experiential," Buddy Media Chief Creative Officer Bryan Boettger brings out the point that brands need to be real, not just live. Yes, social media gives us "live" engagement with people, but as long as we are interacting from behind a keyboard the authentic nature of a brand may remain hidden. Boettger uses the presidential debates to make his point, saying they are live but not very real as the candidates are busy posturing and reciting talking points. In contrast, coverage of the recent event in which Red Bull was associated with Felix Baumgartner's jump from the edge of space gave an unscripted, real glimpse into this extraordinary feat and the sponsor.

We crave control in brand communications - need to manage image, tick off brand proof points - there is no room for unscripted interaction with stakeholders, it seems. Such a mindset places image over authenticity. Boettger contends that there is no substitute for brand experiences. Reliance on digital experiences is like projecting a fake persona. An image can be created that no one gets to know or understand if all communication is carefully guarded.

Event and experiential marketing can complement social media by giving people a channel for tactile interaction with your brand. Being "social" requires putting ourselves in situations sometimes in which we do not have complete control. It reveals our core personality. Be real, and allow your brand to be real. Be prepared to put the "social" in social media.

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