Marketing Advice for the Image ConsciousBy Vanessa Holder on Fri, 08/03/2012 - 17:38
Image has never mattered more. Society and the press demonstrate (if not explicitly tell us) this on a daily basis and the Internet plays a strong part in our image conscious society. Twitter and Facebook have created a world where the pressure can be on to brand ourselves in the same way as a company.
Posting some festival pictures of you relaxing in the sun with a cider and tweeting a philosophical quote from an ageing rock star or two can be enough for others to class you as an easy-going fun-loving person. Perhaps you prefer the Champagne lifestyle? Chuck in a few VIP shots in a swanky London members club, some pouty pictures in Marbella and follow some designer labels to give off the right impression. Whatever your personality it’s an easy way of showing the world who you are and can be a great way to connect with like-minded people.
You do have to take some care when creating your avatar though. You can’t completely control your pages and anyone can put a picture up of you in their album. If you’ve been sending out the message that you’re a brooding and thoughtful poet who enjoys long evening walks in the park and a nice cup of tea, all it takes is one friend to tag a photo of you rolling out of a cheesy nightclub at 4am to shatter the image.
Brands have the same problem and unfortunately it can be the bad, rather than the good, that encourages people to share. Recently big brands have found themselves committing many a social media faux-pas. Earlier this year McDonald’s launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #McDStories. It encouraged customers to go online and share heart-warming stories about their favourite fast-food store. Instead it received a barrage of uncontrollable abuse:
' – Dude, I used to work at McDonald’s. The #McDStories I could tell would raise your hair.’ (Forbes)
‘These #McDStories never get old, kinda like a box of McDonald's 10 piece Chicken McNuggets left in the sun for a week. (LA Times)
In the online world it can also be hard to determine what is genuine. There have been countless stories of people faking photos of themselves having a great time, to appear like a cooler and more interesting person to their online friends.
A recent study has shown how this can cause ‘Facebook depression’, from constantly reading people’s updates who seem to be having a better time than you. Another correlation has recently been found between Facebook and the aggressive side of narcissism.
Companies can also face the problem of online imposters. Shell received some bad PR when Greenpeace created a fake website and Twitter account for them. The account @shellisprepared tweeted, “Our team is working overtime to remove inappropriate ads. Please stop sharing them,” fooling hundreds of members of the public and influential tweeters and journalists alike.
Although initially it can be harder to see through deception when it’s online, people will eventually wise-up to any lies which is why good behaviour pays off. The possibility to play around with your online persona is a great one, but make sure you keep it grounded and don’t let your facebook profile dictate your personality!