Why don’t we have more fun on social media?

That’s the subject of this week’s Twitter conversation: 17 June 2021

EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #MadeinBritainHour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 21,000 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited but most have been left in their casual Twitter style.

This week we discuss personality on social media.

Question one: Are businesses too ‘straight’ on social media and sometimes lack ‘personality’ and a unique identity?

Response: Yes! and I think it's a reflection on society at large. People are afraid to have or express an opinion for fear of being cancelled. 

Made in Britain: Its always interesting to see "these are my own personal views and not the view of a company" - it also works the other way round?

Response: Echo chambers are as dangerous or potentially more so than strong opinions... in my humble opinion of course :-)

Response: Hmmm indeed. Funnily enough I had an exchange the other week along the lines that unless we are challenged by opposing opinions then how can we tackle big questions. This dumbing down dumbs us down...does that make sense?

Response: It’s definitely a case of striking a balance between professionalism and personality. Ideally, a business should present themselves as trustworthy and experts in their field while ensuring they remain friendly and approachable!

Made in Britain: Balance is a great term here. Approachable, friendly and human? We often miss the human side off?

Response: Yes, great point. I suppose that’s where the personality comes in! People buy from people, so customers want to interact with the personalities behind the brand rather than the ‘business’.

Response: For many, yes. It's simply a case of them not understanding how to evoke emotion into campaigns whilst remaining professional.

Made in Britain: That's a great insight - "emotion" - many posts and campaigns seem cold?

Response: We must consider the audience for our messages. Automation may be easier, but it kills conversation. Social media is designed to create conversation and everyone is auto tweeting their messages then going on holiday. You have to be there to make it work.

Response: Lots of people like to make jokes about 'corporate Twitter' and its disconnect from the rest of the site. It's best to maintain a professional face across all digital media, but there's still room for 'fun' posts too and engagement with our followers. I think it comes down to the fact you can't/shouldn't just 'sell, sell, sell' on social media as you will not build a meaningful audience this way.

Made in Britain: We're going to talk about fun posts later in the hour. It is knowing how far you can go and stay professional. Is that a brief that is always given?

Response: I think there is a line between personality and professional - but this changes for every business/account. For instance, you expect the UK Gov accounts to always be professional, but this is not the case for, say, social media marketing companies

Response: That is so true about Gov accounts. Personally, I've always used airlines as an example of different styles. BA - formal, Virgin - informal, Easyjet - straightforward and simple, Ryanair...... 

Response: Similar with supermarkets: Aldi has always been a bit more jokey than places like M&S

Response: True, these are great examples of how companies could look to their social media personality.

Response: Social media has introduced a less formal form of communication which is not always recognised by many companies. The style of communications reflects the personality of the business. The lower the formality the higher the engagement

Response: yes, companies do tend to lag behind in this respect... some but not all I hasten to add.

Made in Britain: Do you think you could tell the size of an organisation by a series of anonymised tweets? Is it the bigger they are the more "corporate" and formal they are?

Response: There are a lot of large organisations that handle this very well, so it is not good to generalise. We just hope that they are training their teams to speak in the consistent tone of voice

Response: I think that the Social Media teams need to be briefed better.

Response: Marmite have done some great social media campaigns which are fun and entertaining. I cannot see a large solicitors practice going down that route. 

Response: That's a great example. Solictors can choose to position themselves as corporate suits or humans. As @Phil_Pond has just said professional means different things to different people?

Response: That's very true. I think some customers expect total professionalism and some even see the use of emoji as too informal and relaxed. I guess it depends on the industry/your typical customer.

Response: Then, in my view, it is those customer companies that shouldn't be using social media, not that the 'user' as you describe should change their SM behaviour.

Response: If companies understand their customers, they will understand what messages they should be communicating. This will include brand and personality.

Response: I agree with @JB_SpringsLtd its about striking a balance, instead of ramming information and data down the throat of your online audience, you should instead be looking at ways of making that information 'fun' to consume. Visually appealing videos could be an avenue for that

Response: Yes, we’ve found videos to be the ideal way of showing our personality! Even something as simple as showing one of our team members operating a machine ingrains our identity and personality.

Response: Exactly, it's a great way of creating personality and helps your community engage with real people instead of a robotic entity

Response: The form of the content - video, text, giveaway etc - definitely has an impact on its tone/style for sure!

Response: That is one of the big challenges - content. Coming up with good content is a lot harder than posting it online. Coming up with consistently good content is the differentiator?

Response: Most definitely. It’s much easier to initially grab someone’s attention than it is to consistently keep it with subsequent content!

Response: that is where a good content strategy comes in. You should be distributing various forms of content across your channels, in line with customer preferred channels and usage

Response: There's definitely a skill to it that's for sure! I think finding and capturing the culture within your company and projecting this out to your online community is a great place to start

Response: There is an excellent insight there into the entire "brand" - everything working together and reflecting who and what you are and how you do things, rather than a fake set of stock photo faces.

Response: Exactly, you'll eventually attract an audience with the same set of values that your brand has

Response: If you can fake sincerity, you have it made... I would guess that that tactic is not completely absent from social media.

Response: I'd arguably say the majority lack personality. There has been a huge shift in recent years, particularly with the global franchises. I'd like to think it's because of @Wendys unique online delivery has inspired businesses but that's just an educated guess

Made in Britain: The question is do they consciously lack personality, i.e. its designed into their social media?

Response: Great question, it's hard to tell behind closed doors. I think sometimes it comes down to lack of social media experience or knowledge and sometimes it comes down to the fear of appearing unprofessional, which personally I think it outright ridiculous

Made in Britain: Interesting term "fear", playing it safe is another term. Do you think the "fear" varies between in-house SM team and outsourced SM? 

Response: Another fantastic question! 100%. An in-house SM team would typically know more about the business and understand what they're posting. When SM is outsourced, a lot of the time there is that lack of knowledge and understanding which creates more hesitancy.

Response: The outsourced team should be onboarded properly...we work very closely with our customers to try and avoid that. It isn't always possible as sometimes there are different elements at play, but ideally they are working in sync.

Response: For many it takes years to build a professional personality which can be destroyed in 240 characters. Yes there is "Fear" out there. They are missing so much. Another thought is "ego"

Response: Interesting term - fear - this is stakeholder engagement and they are clear on messages and tone of voice, there should not be anything to fear. The outsourced team should be working very closely with the inhouse team. Posts can be checked before they go out, as are images

Response: Business on social media should still have brand personality and a unique identity. We develop a tone of voice to make sure that anyone who handles social media speaks consistently to audiences

Response: 100%. It's as crucial for a business to develop brand guidelines and thereby a brand voice as much as any other part of their commercial strategy.

Response: The often-missing Brand Book!

Response: Agreed. Brand guidelines do exist for a reason! 

Response: Professionalism is key, but it is nice to see a more personable side to the business - can also depend on the personality / tone of the person posting!

Response: Is there only 'one' definition of professional? What's professional to you, might not be to me. I think it's best to decide what is 'straight/professional' to you & let others decide for themselves. Can't please everyone anyway, so don't try. It was and always has been called 'Social' media ... if that's still the case perhaps the question should be ... this is Social Media ... are you 'social enough' to participate here? For me an ideal example is @YorkshireTea totally sociable in every sense of the word & product.

Response: This is insightful - the bounds of what constitutes professional behaviour may be flexed depending on who they are applied to and who is applying them.

Response: If you can fake sincerity, you have it made... Face with tears of joy I would guess that that tactic is not completely absent from social media.

Response: That sounds like a very good interview question.

Response: The more one learns about sales, the clearer it is that there is a real art to it. Bad (but sometimes successful) sales is establishing fake rapport & telling people what they want to hear; good is really getting under the hood & delivering solutions. Personality c help w either.

Response: I think a lot of brands are loosening up and taking a leaf out of major brands' social media channels - think Tesco, Dominos, etc. Breaking down the barriers can boost engagement and get followers to turn into customers.

Response: Business related fun is OK. The use of gifs / videos lighten up the posts. 

Response: We encourage a use of emojis/gifs and video as they lighten up, encourage engagement and sometimes hit the right note without needing to take up much space with words.

Response: And are equally a great visual relief from text intensive posts

Response: There needs to be a balance between professional content and tone of voice and fun messages. We always try to keep it related to who we are and or what we believe in as a company.

Response: A bit of personality is important and gets attention and helps to build relationships. It's called *social* media after all!

Response: We generally try to keep it professional but also write how we would speak so, we've been known to throw in a few wee Glasgow colloquialisms when we get the chance

Made in Britain: It is excellent to show that the business actually is somewhere and is proud of where they are. That creates personality knowing it’s not in an anonymous serviced office in London.

Response: Very difficult and some good comments on this. Many of us are not professional copywriters and I’ve always struggled with a ‘tone of voice’ that’s not my own. Probably need to understand your target audience and objectives in the first instance

Made in Britain: Tone of voice is something that takes time to learn, or for new teams it takes time to determine what it should be. Who should make the decision?

Response: Marketing should make the decision IMHO. That is if/when marketing do research, strategy and tactics and not only communications 

Made in Britain: Marketing should make the decision based on research. Wonder how many make the decision based on what they personally like/think? same with corporate colours etc

Response: Does anyone seriously believe the majority of people on SM seek 'professional' content first; or that professional content is what drives engagement? Why are accounts like #YorkshireTea successful? Funny, contentious, opinionated ... etc drives engagement.

Response: brand personality!

Response: Totally agree on what drives engagement. @IntegrowSales said earlier about "dumbing down" being a problem. Would you agree @Phil_Pond

Question two: How can a business create more ‘personality’ whilst retaining a professionalism?

Response: Ensure you have guidelines in place for the social media policy. Embrace all comments. Talk about relevant topics too and offer information, creating value. Avoid personal opinions when posting for a company

Response: 1. Remember a 'business' is actually a group of thinking human beings. 2. Remember that a 'business' is a team of individual personalities first. 3. Pick the right 'individual personalities' to represent the Business in this very social setting.

Response: yup on the business !

Response: Yes, the expression I loved hearing at one seminar was that bricks can't buy!!

Response: Good call Sian. Bricks don't buy, neither does technology. We must remember that it Humans that do the buying for whatever reason.

Response: Create a policy and know your boundaries i.e. what you shouldn't say / refrain from politics etc. Identify your USP / your skill / your differentiator and brainstorm some fun content ideas to use i.e. in video format, polls, competitions etc. Create the community!

Response: Could not have put it better myself! Create a brand personality guide, look at the customer journey to see what type of information you could be sharing, understand the channel and work within its limitations.

Response: Sharing personal stories, utilising celebration days to help strike up a conversation. Always keeping the business in mind and ultimately what you are trying to market, whether it be a product or a service. 

Made in Britain: As @Phil_Pond just said - a business is a group of human beings. I personally don't think we see enough of that from some companies. There is also the element of how companies treat their staff, that brings out 'personality'

Response: Yes, we had an incredible response to our posts celebrating Jean and Wes (LINIAN co-founder's) recent 40th Wedding Anniversary. 

Made in Britain: These sort of posts and info make a business more personal. As we've said before, details of family businesses are great. Even to the extent with Linian of where the name came from

Made in Britain: As @Phil_Pond just said - a business is a group of human beings. I personally don't think we see enough of that from some companies. There is also the element of how companies treat their staff, that brings out 'personality'

Response: Having a plan of the type of content being shared. Keeping to a consistent style and tone of voice. Think about what your customer likes to engage with. How can you include interesting items that are relevant like product photos, diagrams and videos.

Response: I think this can be done primarily via two things: content and tone. Your copy does a lot of work in a v small space on sites like Twitter! Tapping into wider cultural interests as well as promoting your business can provide a balance

Response: Being seen to be actively 'engaged'. Examples - ice bucket and the mannequin challenge. Neither made you look less professional, just more approachable.

Response: and caring about causes that are important for your customer base

Made in Britain: Really like seeing stories like that. They actually are more powerful when they are from companies that would be in the "faceless" category of SM comms style.

Response: You can still be professional even if you wear shorts and sandals to work, it's the same basis. Showing a deep knowledge of the subject matter and a professional attitude will do the job better than sticking on a fancy suit and calling it a day.

Made in Britain: There's an element of "we've always done it that way" that comes across with lots of companies in terms of comms (and also dress code). I sit in an office all day, its hot, nobody sees me, why do I have to wear a shirt and tie all day. I watched that argument

Response: Exactly, being open to change can be a saving grace in a lot of situations. The majority was against working from home until it was forced upon us, sometimes that extra push can really get the ball rolling.

Response: All the time! We need to embrace the new tech and include social media! Like previously said, be where your customers are!

Response: Depending on the content, you need to try and keep posts as much business like as possible. But same old, same old business stuff gets boring after a while, so occasional fun posts are great! Something that engages followers. We love emojis

Response: That said, I think you can mix it up a bit too. I know an accountant who posts "professional" content during the week and is a bit more candid, personal and human on the weekend. Both modes work very well. 

Response: Businesses that entertain and educate equally well are the ones who garner my interest.

Response: The elusive Brand Book (The Company Persona) and Customer Personas are two tools that can be effectively used to mitigate problems. Add to these Reputation management strategy and a social media brief for the social media team

Response: Show it! Our new video series follows LINIAN Directors, & siblings, Lynne and Ian, as they go for a 'walking meeting'. It's casual (filmed on a phone as they are walking), but they discuss important news and topics and issues they are passionate about.

Response: Ensure you have guidelines in place for the social media policy. Embrace all comments. Talk about relevant topics too and offer information, creating value. Avoid personal opinions when posting for a company

Question three: How effective are competitions on social media? Any suggestions to make them more effective?

Response: Give one of your products as a prize. A competition is more than giving something away. It is to engage with those who are interested in your product. Give them one as a prize. All entrants are interested so give them a % discount for entering.

Response: We've had mixed results. Agree with the others here, it's best to keep them simple.

Response: We love a good competition!

Response: I can take them or leave them but if I'm not their audience then it doesn't matter. Like anything in marketing test & measure.

Response: If effective means 'driving sales' ... not very. If it means driving engagement ... somewhat. If it means gaining followers/re-posts etc ... only if that's part of the qualification to win!

Response: We love competitions...just don't make them too hard!! They are great for engagement and as some @MadeinBritainGB members do here, you can do it very successfully and in a light hearted manner.  It is another great way to engage and doesn't always need to be serious

Response: For too hard, also read too much. It started with a like, then tag a friend, then tag two friends and now you see like the post, tag two friends, repost in your feed and follow two accounts collaborating. It would be interesting to see if this drives more engagement or less.

Made in Britain: Drives impressions and shares but probably not the correct follower audience unless you are selling something with mass appeal - water?

Response: Depends on the intent of why you are running the competition. Run them previously to acquire marketing images in niches where readers provide in order to win tickets. V. Successful

Response: This is done quiet a bit nowadays. It engages customers and you get good feedback by giving an item away. We see twitter offers that say follow / retweet to have a chance to win . . . An organic way of growing your followers

Made in Britain: Does growing your followers ultimately result in an increase in sales?

Response: Only if you get engagement from your followers ! No point having lots of followers and no engagement !

Response: We boost some of our client collaborative competition posts mainly for B2C

Made in Britain: Does that give you a tangible benefit?

Response: We think so - its seen by a larger 'targeted' audience and drives more traffic to competition link on website

Question four: Do you have any examples of the effective use of fun/light hearted yet professional posts/campaigns on social media? 

Response: Always a difficult one to demonstrate. What one finds funny others do not. There are many examples of fun social media campaigns one of mine is Marmite. You love it or hate it. They have taken a known fact and played with it.

Response: Brewdog's campaigns are always great value however unfortunately they're facing some negative PR but that said, their CEOs online contrition could work for them.

Response: Nando's somehow manages to be very cheeky in how it plays fast & loose w. 'professional' advertising, but the audience loves their tone & message. Somehow the fun of them short circuits the overly PC brigade...

Response: Great example. How often do they post content like that?

Response: Almost every single tweet. Another style they have: asking people that do not hold the same human beliefs as them ... to STOP following them. Brilliant, consistent, challenging, opinionated ... they change for no-one. Always my favourite example.

Response: A brilliant example this! Along with the supermarkets during the 'caterpillar cake war' It’s such a clever way of engaging with their audiences

Response: Having a fun element is the way? some do it the opposite with a controversial element.

Response: Yeah there are some that use controversy to promote their brands, there's actually a cafe in Ireland that uses this tactic effectively

Response: This is a great example because it’s offbeat enough to not constitute advertising, but sufficiently related to be associated with the core business of the firm. Quirky, engaging & non-controversial.

Response: non-controversial is the key term

Response: The Colin the Caterpillar drama from a couple months back saw some great content across the board from several supermarket chains.

Join Made in Britain on Twitter at 1pm every Thursday for #MadeinBritainHour. We engage with everybody, members and non-members alike (some of whom become members as a result). Hopefully, see you there.

This page has links to all the previous Twitter conversations we have 'caught in the net': CLICK HERE.

By Made in Britain 3 months ago | Made in Britain news

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