What Makes a Brand ‘Genius’?

what is social media genius

We all know social media genius when we see it, but trying to define it is like describe a scent. It’s like that or it isn’t that, we say, and it can be something that’s very hard to put your finger on.

We have spent an awful lot of our lives watching and listening on social media, from when the whole thing began in fact. We started as a dedicated social media agency in April 2009, which is two months before the watershed month that McKinsley has identified as being when the majority of content switched from being produced by brands to being produced by individuals. Why is that important?

Douglas Burdett will explain…

Truly Genius Campaigns

Over the years we’ve noticed that the truly genius campaigns and successful brands all share common elements:

  • Know their analytics and watch the trends, and use the two together constructively.
  • Use great design to speak to their customers clearly and simply.
  • Empathic and knowledgeable content that seeks to help their customers, rather than sell to them.
  • Listen to their customers and know their audience intimately, so they understand what they care about and care about that themselves, and take action to show it.
  • It also means they can give people what they want and need because they know.
  • Care about their staff and know their people are their greatest assets
  • Know what is relevant right here, right now.

All of which makes them very personable, human even, and therefore they become not just loved, but respected.

Their people tend to visible and great advocates for the brand, they are clear about their values and those values are not left in a marketing filing cabinet somewhere but run through the whole company, informing their actions and acted upon daily.

Check out Kirsty Leighton’s interview on Change for Good to see how this looks in real terms.

Most People Don’t Care About Most Brands

All of which is important if your brand is to become a part of people’s lives at a time when the Meaningful Brands Index found that consumers wouldn’t care if 77% of brands were to disappear. Because if they don’t care you can’t reach them. How so?

  1. People avoid advertising as much as they can – most people use the remote control to bypass them on television and ad blockers to avoid them online. If an advert does get through, say on social media or in a magazine, most people skim over it or switch it off. It has to be REALLY good to get through these days. We think that Iceland played a blinder, for example, using a video that they knew wouldn’t get through Clearcast in 2018 so being ‘forced’ to release it on social media with a great story of being the underdog (and triggering a very nasty social media crisis for Clearcast as a by product)
  2. If people need something, they ask their friends and community on social media, and use those brands that their ‘tribe’ love and rate.
  3. People follow things that capture their eye on social media, and if it makes them happy or need what they are selling, they might buy,
  4. Occasionally they might look further afield, but that’s what Google or Amazon are for, right?

So what if you aren’t loved? What if you don’t get recommended? What if your social media is all about yourself and a turn off? What if your advertising is being ignored? What if you aren’t on the first page of Google – or if you are it’s for something irrelevant?

Then you are simply invisible with no audience and that can easily prove fatal as recent study by CB Insights found when they were seeking to find out why startups failed.

Visibility is Key

So a brand must be visible. And becoming visible is all about making sure you understand your audience, that you are giving your community what it wants in a way that works.

Visibility doesn’t *just* happen – it is the result of lots of incremental behind the scenes work whereby you understand what your audience wants and needs, you position yourself as the expert with precise helpful, interesting, educational, entertaining content and you make sure you can be found on social media and search by the people looking for you. That’s not all people, that’s just the ones looking for you – you don’t need to be everything to all people, just reach the specific ones who love what you are doing and for whom you make a difference. That means being focused on who you are listening to, what they need, what they care about and what they are looking for. Everything else is so much noise.

There really is no point kicking the beaujangles out of social media, for example, if it’s badly focused and 96% of your traffic from social media bounces off as soon as it hits your webpage (true story that!). That means you are getting it badly wrong either on social media or your website or both.

To gain visibility you must understand how you can help people stay longer, because the longer they stay the more likely they are to connect, return and buy. To do that you need to understand your audience and that means watching them on social media, listening to what they have to say and having conversations with them. Not shouting at them to buy from you or talking about yourself (or both).

Be More Human

Becoming a brand rockstar, a social media genius, also relies on you being a personable brand, a purposeful brand, one that people like, respect and want to spend money with and recommend to their friends. This ‘field knowledge’ is backed up by lots of studies such as this recent one by EY, which shows many consumers are now choosing to buy from brands that they know are doing good –

Cautiously extravagant consumers respond strongly to purposeful brands, with 62% saying they would be more likely to purchase from companies that they feel are doing good for society. And 29% would pay a premium for brands that contribute to the community and 42% for domestically produced goods.

EY Future Consumer Index: How COVID-19 is changing consumer behaviors

Be a Leader

And with great visibility comes great responsibility. We the consumers look to brands to provide leadership, we expect them to strive to do the right thing and if brands fail in these expectations, we can turn on them very quickly – as every business who’s been the focus of a social media crisis will tell you.

What people ultimately expect nowadays, especially in these days of fear and anxiety, political and economic uncertainty, the onslaught of fake news and lies, is for brands to be leaders. We want them to show empathy, as Douglas said and, as Natalie said, to ‘Just be decent’ .

Taking it to the Next Level

If you want to understand more about the nuts and bolts of becoming a social media genius, you can download two of our guides:

How to make social media work for your business – download it for free here

Nine steps to getting on the front page of Google – download it for free here