The evolution of corporate communications has taken a whole new life in an era when trust is low and expectation is high. Added to that is the “always on” mentality, where the internet give audiences constant access to content and information, which also provides continual opportunities for skepticism. Consumers, users and potential advocates are inundated with reasons to not believe or invest themselves in a company’s mission, vision or values. The news is relentlessly covering corporate and social media misuse of information and companies are feeling the pressure to make good on promises of past times and stepping up to stand for something more than the product they sell. Above all of that, they are often not paying attention to the one thing that creates loyalty: trust. So what does that mean for companies trying to communicate about their values and show why they are worthy of a loyal community?
It means that the pressure is on and time is of the essence. We’re operating in a divisive environment where people are actively advocating for issues, engaging only with brands that align with their values and criticizing brands they think are doing it wrong. It means that every decision down to the tweets must have purpose, intention and ladder up to the larger mission of the company beyond the product they sell or create.
The big question is, how? How do brands do this in a way that feels genuine, transparent and of value without coming across as opportunistic and disingenuous?
A few ways to continually push towards and build that authentic connection with key audiences include:
- Understanding your audience: To succeed on social platforms, and in general communications strategy, it is imperative to understand who your audience is and what they care about. This allows brands to create hyper-targeted content based on characteristics and preferences of their audience and avoid wasting time creating content that no one will care about. This doesn’t just apply to current audiences but is also applicable to wanting to recruit new audiences or groups that care about another sector of the business.
- Building a community: Nobody likes to be talked at, and that includes people on social media. Create a community that shares your values, consistently engage and recruit new audience members. This gives companies and organizations an opportunity to co-create with their audience, which reinforces their roles in the narrative by directly relating to their lives, preferences, etc.
- Always being transparent: This doesn’t necessarily mean sharing every painstaking detail about anything and everything. Instead, demonstrate that your actions match your statements and stick to it. This creates trust and loyalty, which leads to customer advocates.
- Playing the long-term game: Don’t make decisions just to make them or based on trends, but pressure test decisions against your values to make sure they are aligned and authentic. We often see companies trying to be more reactive to audience demands, but staying the course ensures long-term commitment from the audience.
- Creating physical touch points: Social media provides companies with unhindered access to each other, but it lacks human connections. Companies must create opportunities to connect with people in real life. Every touch point, digital or not, is an opportunity to build a loyal advocate. Take advantage of these opportunities in a way that creates two-way communication.
These are just a few ways to ensure your corporate brand stays authentic, relevant and connected in this ever-evolving landscape.