The internet is weird, and social media is even weirder.
Never before have we had the opportunity to represent ourselves in any way we see fit. If we’re angry, we can step back. If we’re sad, we can hide it. We can portray ourselves however we want to. That’s a really powerful tool because it determines how we’re viewed in the public eye.
There’s another big thing to remember:
The reach of the internet is far greater than the volume of our voices.
That makes it doubly important to be able to cut through the noise and stand out. Most companies adopt some sort of online personality, which allows them to be identified by their followers and customers. It also makes the brand more noticeable and memorable. For the most part, there are three kinds of personality that companies embrace.
Chick-fil-A – The Parent
Products over people.
Companies like Chick-fil-A tend to direct their social personalities towards praising their consumers and creating a solid relationship with them. The profile is mainly used to promote their products and play a role in the handling of PR issues.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad approach, it doesn’t engage with followers very much outside of processing complaints or thanking positive comments, which is done through Sprinklr. The software’s job is to lessen the influx of comments the account gets on a daily basis.
By using Sprinklr, Chick-fil-A simplifies certain systems. However, they also lose an element of humanity, replacing it with an automated, cookie-cutter response. It’s not bad, but it shows that there’s a company managing the account. There are other personalities which make use of social media while adopting a more personalised approach.
Wendy’s – The Critic
People and products.
Wendy’s made a name for itself in the Twitter sphere in 2017. After what can only be described as an interesting back-and-forth with a troll, the internet was left in stitches after the user attempted to jab at the fast-food chain by accusing them of using frozen meat.
What makes this interesting is how Wendy’s handled the interaction. What could have been dismissed as just another troll ended up becoming free publicity for the company.
And would go on to form part of one of the core aspects of the Wendy’s online personality.
Wendy’s comes across as sarcastic and cynical. A persona which isn’t afraid to engage with anybody and everybody, regardless of the size of their following. That’s what people enjoy about them.
However, traces of their identity as a commercial brand still bleed through.
Wendy’s uses a software called Salesforce to handle certain interactions by sending out replies to customer complaints. This is where the company loses the power of its persona, but it’s more noticeable in companies following a Parent mentality.
As we go down the list, the amount of automation decreases, and personal interaction increases, which means that there are less machines and more people.
Which brings us to the third personality, embodied through MoonPie.
MoonPie – Gen Z Incarnate
People over product.
MoonPie has a very solid follower base by channelling itself through a persona that doesn’t chastise or praise customers in any traditional sense. They choose to act… human. Their posts on Twitter are posted via iPhone, meaning there’s (presumably) one person behind the account.
As a result, instead of the account feeling “managed”, it feels like it’s being “used”. In general, people have a much more relaxed view on how they use social media. They have the capacity to see it as a platform for expression, rather than a tool for promotion – a path which brands tend to go down.
The tone lends itself to casual banter, with very little direct product promotion. Although almost everything references the sweet treat in some way, nothing feels forced. The posting is irregular, and personality is conveyed consistently. What makes the account so entertaining is the fact that it doesn’t feel like a company that’s been around for over 100 years. It feels like your everyday Gen Z using social media as a platform to spew their thoughts into the aether.
It’s important to keep in mind that managing social media accounts is tough, and none of these social media personalities are easy to maintain. It’s clear that there are some personalities that focus on interacting with followers, and others that focus more on product promotion. It also outlines that what a company offers doesn’t have to determine how that company brings itself across through social media.
Building a relationship with followers can be done regardless of whether you’re a Parent, Critic or Gen Z Incarnate. However, it’s fair to say that you get out what you put in, and if you’re not enjoying yourself, chances are that you may not be putting in as much as you could be.
When all’s said and done, it’s important to remember that there are people behind big corporations. That’s why they can talk to other people effectively, and if you want your followers to have fun, you need to try to have fun too.