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Who Are They to You?: Businesses Creating Social Media Personas

I really enjoyed Chapter 12 of Brian Solis’ book, “Engage!” This chapter focused on how companies can establish their online personas with their audiences. While reading this chapter, a lot of the questions I had about personas online were answered. Solis mostly spoke from a business’s point of view, but I was able to apply some of the suggestions he gave to my personal life.

When discussing the relationship between businesses and their online personas, Solis said the challenge was “defining and reinforcing the brand personality as it either existed prior to social media and/or how it should display and present to those across the Social Web.” I think this is definitely a good point to bring up. Maintaining an image or brand personality was easier before social media, but now with the new networks, companies have to modify their personality so that it reflects well in social media.

Listed below are the eight essential stages to establishing an online persona, according to Solis:

  • Core Values:  At the beginning, we need to form a common center of gravity to support the orbiting characteristics that support our mission and purpose. The only way for a team to continuously grow is to have a solid foundation to build upon.
  • Brand Pillars: Pillars that establish the principal, central themes that convey our uniqueness and value, fortified through the social objects we develop and distribute.
  • Promise:The pledge that paves the way to brand meaning and direction is the brand promise.

    Photo courtesy of briansolis.com

  • Aspirations: Our aspirations are representative of the stature and mission we seek over time, and it’s constant. You always want to have something to work towards. It keeps you motivated and relevant.
  • Brand Characteristics: Defining the brand characteristics will help us establish the traits we wish to associate with the brand represented through our actions, words, and overall behavior. What do you want people to see or hear when it comes to your brand?
  • Opportunities: It’s a combination of who we are and what we offer today and also the opportunities that emerge that allow us to connect to those seeking solutions we had yet to identify.
  • Culture: The brand team must examine the culture of the company, not only what it is today, but ultimately how it should embody our aspirations so that it is readily identifiable in social media. People need something they can align with, and it is our culture that serves as the magnet to our purpose and aspirations. We are all in this together.
  • Personality:  This final step in the completion of the Brand Reflection Cycle, is to identify and bring to life the personality and character of the brand through conversations, social objects, and stories. If the brand was a person, how would it appear? How would it sound? How would it interact with others? How would others describe it?

He then goes on to talk about companies having multiple personalities. I was actually surprised that he suggested having the personal and professional accounts. A lot the times I hear other professionals saying that you should be able to balance your personal and professional personalities on one account. This makes me feel a little bit better because I do have two accounts for certain social media networks because I have different audiences. Yes, I’m still Cherese on each account, but the topics I discuss with my followers vary and I feel it just keeps things in their own lane.

The example he gave of Zappos was cool. I think it’s great to have multiple employees tweeting on behalf of a company. I think it allows each of the employees to show their individuality as well as be a part of the company’s overall online persona. The main thing, as Solis says, is to make sure everyone is aware of the eight aspects of their brand’s online identity. The only problem I could see with multiple accounts related to the company is that it opens up the door for more opportunities for mistakes and to be attacked.

This had to be one of my favorite chapters.

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