By Jenny Lemmons Magic published February 4, 2011

The Role of Personality, the Underdog and Superpowers in Effective Social Media Marketing

Your company has set up the Twitter profiles, added a blog to the website and customized a Facebook page. Now what? How do you find your “secret sauce,” the story that’s going to get attention from your target audience?

When visitors give your website or social media profile a quick glance, it’s the equivalent of them asking “What do you do?” if they met you in person. There’s only a brief instant to make a connection as they decide where your company “fits” in their world.

  • As a company, are you interesting?
  • Are you an expert at something they need help with?
  • Do you share a passion for an activity they enjoy?
  • Most importantly, do you seem genuine?

Information about your latest sale or newest product is probably not enough to start a conversation.

Whether or not you’ve thought about it, your company has a personality. If your idea of your corporate brand stops at logo colors and your mission statement, it’s time to liven up your persona.

The companies that are most successful at social media understand this and play it up.

  • Fiskars isn’t about scissors, it’s about creativity.
  • Zappos isn’t about shoes, it’s about being helpful.
  • Geico has a sense of humor.

Imagine your company as an individual and describe them, much like marketers do when they create personas to describe their target audience.

Just for this exercise, imagine your company with a name, a job, a family and a personality. Brainstorm:

What is Your Company’s (Secret) Identity?

Let’s say your company’s persona name is William.

  • Does he go by Bill, the more formal William or the trendy Will?
  • What does he do for fun?
  • How does he dress for work?
  • When he was young, what did he do better than his siblings?
  • Was he good at in school?
  • What kinds of awards did he win?
  • What would he dress up as on Halloween?
  • How would his friends describe him?
  • Who is his favorite superhero?

Ask yourself if Bill has any special talents, things that might be his “superpowers” – what would it say on his cape? What’s our hero’s “competitive advantage”?

The Underdog or the Top Dog?

Everybody cheers for the underdog. Whether on the sports field or in the business pages, we love a good come-from-behind story. We used to root for Google to take on corporate giants, but as they’ve grown there are rumblings about them turning into a corporate giant. Their underdog story used to play a big part in our perception of their company personality, but it’s changed. Now that they’re not the underdog, they haven’t told us who they are instead, and some would say their brand image has taken a hit.

So back to your Bill:

  • Why did he get into this line of work?
  • Was he naturally talented at the job?
  • Was there a turning point, a moment when an idea came to life?
  • What obstacles stood in the way and what did he overcome to get here?
  • Were there any lucky shortcuts that pushed Bill ahead of the pack?
  • What were the “fork in the road” critical junctures that landed him here in this moment?

Is your company the leader of the pack or the underdog? If your company had to write a juicy memoir instead of a dry “About Us” page, what would make it a page-turner?

Is Your Company Fun?

Johnny Carson once said, “People will happily pay more to be entertained than to be educated.” Never is that more true than in social media.

  • What makes your process or product different, memorable or more fun than another solution to the problem?
  • How would you throw a party focused on your services? Fiskars throws scrapbooking parties, and Zappos might host a fashion show. What event could your company host that your target audience would pay to attend?

Smart marketers realize that people connect with people, and even enterprise-level content marketing strategies need to be built around a personality. That can take the form of a representative persona like the Geico gecko, an actual person like Tony Hsieh of Zappos, or just a consistent implied personality and tone of voice behind the corporate message. After all, it’s always easier to “like” or “follow” someone you can imagine actually meeting.

What other tips do you have for unearthing a company’s personality?

(Photo by adactio License: Creative Commons Attribution)

Author: Jenny Lemmons Magic

Jenny Lemmons Magic is the founder of Better Way To Say It, a content marketing firm specializing in helping businesses and non-profits find their voice and get attention. Her communication and community-building skills help her forge bridges between companies and their customers, among members of marketing teams, and on the boards of the organizations with which she volunteers. You can follow her on Twitter @jennyLmagic.

Other posts by Jenny Lemmons Magic