Social media is bad for your brand

The ‘try anything approach’ to social media is ruining brand identities.

Frequently on social media channels, especially LinkedIn, you’ll see posts that extol the practice of not ‘overthinking it’; just post anything and see if it works. If it doesn’t, move on, change it and post something else.

All fine and dandy, except.

Except, it isn’t.

I recently visited the TikTok account of a well-know high street brand and I was flabbergasted.

A mish mash of ‘trying to be funny videos’, ‘how to’ explainers and even some weird clips that were actually critical of the company’s merchandise for no apparent reason.

Its sole purpose, it appeared, was simply to try and get clicks and likes.

The problem was (is) that it paid no attention to the company’s brand. It didn’t have any consistency about it. It was unclear who their target audience was (I don’t even think this was a consideration for them).

It was a mess.

What prompted me to go there was a boast from someone in the social media team that one of their videos had gone ‘viral’ (not sure what criteria they used to judge this) and they had gained more followers. Happy days.

Except the content bore no resemblance to their high street presence.

It was, as marketing people used to say (and may still do), not ‘on brand’.

The company are running two parallel brands: one that’s quite sober and in keeping with their history, the other that’s a zany exploration of how many views, clicks, likes and whatevers they can get on social media.

In keeping with the ‘try it and see if it works’ methodology, they have created an eclectic mix of media content. But without, it seems, any regard for the company’s brand or brand values.

And, although I have singled them out, they are not alone. Too many companies are copying each other, led by social media gurus who have used social media effectively to build their own profiles.

But, their profiles are their brand. Their zaniness is what they are about. It’s why people like them. They’ve built their following around their product: themselves.

For a corporate brand to try to ape this behaviour is folly. They may get clicks for their 10 second capers and they may also find that they have to become dafter and more extreme to keep the likes and followers coming back.

All the time moving further away from their true brand identity. And their true brand identity is what people experience when they interact in real life.

If the real life experience doesn’t match up with the marketing proposition, it is unlikely to end well.

It shows confused thinking within the organisation, a lack of understanding who their audience (customer) is, and, I predict, a rocky time ahead for at least one more, well-known, high street brand.

In our experience, it is highly usual for a single department in a business to be a maverick operator. Individual departments tend to operate in line with the overall culture of a company: good or bad.

So, if you see something that’s not working properly at ‘shop floor’ level or, in this case, the marketing department, you can be sure that things aren’t right in the boardroom either.