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Tue 11 Feb 2014 04:45 PM

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Social media: Finding your brand’s soul

Mila Araujo discusses the importance of branding yourself in a smart way in order to succeed on social media

Social media: Finding your brand’s soul
A Facebook Inc. social media logo and a "like" symbol stand on display during a news conference at the Armani Hotel to announce the opening of a Facebook office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. Facebook Inc, which raised $16 billion this month in the biggest initial share sale for a technology company in history, today started a sales office in Dubai to serve the Middle East and North Africa. (Bloomberg)

Mila Araujo discusses the importance of branding yourself in a smart way in order to succeed on social media.


The term social media is largely misused and misunderstood.

You can’t have one social media strategy, or just decide to ‘do social media’. You have to realise what the term represents. That’s the first challenge I see when I speak with most people considering social for their businesses.

The basis of media

When you are speaking about using social media as an outreach tool in the general public the first thing you have to realise is that none of those people are reading the articles I and others like me are writing – the dialogue we all have about it on-line is of no interest to them.

The people you are trying to reach are living their lives. Reaching them becomes marketing – just as you try to do with magazine articles, TV appearances or adverts. That’s the media part of the term.

In turn, from a business owner’s stand point, making decisions about social media use has to come from understanding deeper objectives and being in touch with your organization as a whole. Social media is not a new marketing strategy or sales vessel.  It’s not a substitute for customer service. It’s not about broadcasting a new logo or flooding a channel with messages, it’s about a mindset.

What is the ‘social’ really about?

Social is about this ability for consumers, employees, and all people to be connected.  People using the online space to further their knowledge, interact with others, do research, play games, express themselves, grow, laugh, be entertained and of course, throughout all this, to share. The social part is about where you are reaching them and it’s the entire basis of all these pillars of social marketing success.

I think sometimes businesses, people looking into social, and marketers forget the ‘why’ of why you have to be genuine, or why the goal is content, or consistency.

It’s the why that is important: You are reaching people via networks that they are specifically using for their own interests – you’re reaching them while they are looking at pictures of their kids or grandkids, while they are checking out Facebook, or via photo sharing sites where people like to look at images that inspire them – or maybe just keep them tuned in to what’s happening at the coolest club or party. You may even catch them as they moan about their horrible day. On the best day of their lives, the worse day of their lives, and every day in between. That’s where you are.

All of this is what contributes to these theories and schools of thought on how to do social effectively.

Be the brand they don’t realise is a brand

Doing social effectively is being able to infiltrate these circles. Make your way into their private lives and streams of information in a way that you provide value, support, entertainment or information.

To do so in such a way that they feel they are sharing something from a friend or seeing something from a like minded soul. That you are giving them something worthy of their day, worthy of being in their private world, so much so, that when you’re successful they take pride in, or even get kudos for sharing amongst their peers.

The brand with a soul

That’s where the brand ‘being human’ comes in, that’s where the necessity to not broadcast ads that are all ‘selly’ comes in.  You won’t make it into anyone’s circle like that: not in real life and not on-line.

The only exception is to those who choose the route of appealing to people’s desire to win things, to get things for free, to get things for less. A good contest strategy can be very successful, but unless you craft it very carefully, you likely won’t win any hearts or deep brand loyalty, you’ll just be ‘that  ad’ – that hope to win something.

Then you won’t really be in their circles will you? You’ll just be a tool, not a soul.

The craft

Using social media effectively is to use the gift of just being you, and being likeable – being funny, compassionate, entertaining – whatever your target client needs. If your brand can wrap its mind around that, you will understand that social isn’t a fad – it’s the effect of the people demanding genuine character from their interactions. That didn’t come from the on-line space, or from computers – that came from humanity.

Are you ready to be giving?

Call it social media marketing or call it being real and respecting people’s time and being a giving brand – whatever it is, I am pretty sure it’s here to stay. The social consumer will demand it and brands that really see this will adapt into understanding how to be human – not just a product. They will, in turn, be welcomed warmly among the people.

When they say it’s about being human, it really is – the more companies and businesses start to see that instead of thinking that social media is some computer based, business saving cure or fad, the more successful brands will be. All the while contributing to the overall benefit of their consumers in the online space. It’s an opportunity to be more than just a product and really be a part of the community.

Focused on leadership, branding, employee engagement, non-profit and social media policy, Mila Araujo is often cited and speaks at events and conferences. Read more from Mila at www.milaspage.com.

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