Creating Your Brand’s Online Persona

Most businesses maintain a social media presence in order to engage existing customers and reach new customers. Though sharing high quality content is one of the primary ways to achieve these goals, brands also need to think about how their followers perceive their online persona.

Think of it this way: social media accounts are like extensions or additional dimension of a brand’s or business’s personality. If you haven’t taken the time to define this personality and consider how you want to portray it via social media, then your brand can come off as haphazard, dull, or even off-putting.

In other words, carefully defining your business’s online persona is kind of a big deal!

In order to address this kind-of-big-deal, what should you take into consideration when determining your business’s online persona?

What is the tone of your online voice?

  • Enthusiastic?
  • Friendly?
  • Down-to-earth?
  • Strictly professional?
  • Knowledgeable?
  • Approachable?
  • Welcoming?
  • Humorous?
  • Replete with hipster irony?

Any one of these tones can be a good fit for a brand or business. In addition to helping you target a particular demographic or audience, they can help you create content that this audience wants to share with others.

Think of it this way: let’s say you sell donuts. (I love you already.) You could post a picture of a donut with the caption, “This is a donut.” You could do this every day, with the exact same personality-less caption every single time. (This might be veering into hipster-irony territory, but let’s set that aside for the moment.) 

Or you could add some personality to those posts! Perhaps your very refined and mature and knowledgeable donut shop could add a caption about the exact amount of time it took to create this donut from scratch, from the second you pulled out the flour to the second you dipped the fried dough into the glaze. People love behind-the-scenes knowledge like that. Or perhaps your super-enthusiastic and super-casual store could add a caption about “ZOMG I WANT TO PUT ALL THE DONUTS IN MY FACEHOLE!” People love to laugh about things like that.

Better yet, people love to share behind-the-scenes knowledge and things that make them laugh.

Remember, sharing is golden. Sharing is what you want. Sharing and liking and commenting and all of that wonderful engagement is the whole point of maintaining (and, let’s be honest, marketing via) your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media sites.

You just need to determine which online tone (or tones) work well for you. And if they’re working—if they’re keeping your audience interested, engaged, and sharing—keep using them.

What tones do you want to avoid?

  • Sales-pitchy
  • Condescending
  • Devoid of any personality

People don’t want to follow you to receive an endless stream of sales pitches. It’s spammy, and it makes people angry. (It doesn’t matter if it’s irrational anger: it’s still anger, which is the exact opposite of what you want your followers to feel when they see you pop up in their feed.) They also don’t want to follow anyone—or like or share or comment on any post—that is boring. (Obviously). And they certainly don’t want to follow anyone that is rude or haughty. (That’s a quick ticket to the UNFOLLOW button.)

A carefully considered online persona, however, can help to better position you and your brand and your brand’s posts when it comes to your social media presence. The better-positioned you are, the more engagement you’ll receive. Better yet, the more engagement you receive, the more people you reach online.

How does your online voice differ from the voice on your website and/or the one in your store, restaurant, or office?

  • Is your social media voice more casual?
  • Are you trying to reach a new or expanded demographic with your social media accounts?
  • Is your social media voice your own voice, the voice of a particular person in your business, or a generic business voice?

Your business’s social media persona does not have to be exactly like the persona of your brick and mortar business site, nor does it have to match precisely the tone on your website. In many cases, successful social media accounts have tones that are a bit more casual than their corresponding websites or locations.

Whether it’s more casual or more professional, or whether it’s representative of a particular person or the brand in general, the most important point is that a brand and business determine what the persona is in the first place.

It should only take a short while to outline exactly what you want this persona to be: maybe a quick meeting, maybe a few minutes hammering out a list of qualities that you want your business to express online. Don’t worry: it’s not rocket science. It’s not even seventh grade earth science.

The point is this: once you’ve determined that online persona, and once you start using that persona in your posts, your brand will thank you for it.

Your followers just might too.