They used to say, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
But, here’s a question for you. Why wouldn’t you want to be a dog anyway?
Yes, the Internet is a vast, scary dark room where all the lights are off, and you can’t make out any faces. Everyone is a stranger. Or worse.
This faceless, nameless environment tempts us to put up our guard with a safe, armored, too-cool-for-school, no-fear identity.
Anonymity for some means freedom to be whomever we want to be.
So, who are you online? Does cover of darkness bring out your worst traits? Do you find yourself upping the snark, increasing your bite, being your worst self?
What if when you went online, you leveraged the opportunity to be your BEST self?
The person you wished you could be In Real Life. All. The. Time.
What if, when you went online, you really were a dog?
Trusting, caring, excited to see everyone. Loving. Sharing. Helpful. Happy.
On the Internet, you have a chance to focus on presenting (and being) your best self.
On the Internet, you can take your time and speak to other people in a way you always intend to: with kindness. With clarity. With positive intent.
On the Internet, you can take a breath, compose yourself, and not self-protectively blurt out the first, worst thing you can say.
On the Internet, you can bring a positive attitude, without feeling like an embarrassing Pollyanna.
On the Internet, you can begin to engage with your customers and fans in a way that provides value, and makes people happy to see you in their newsfeed.
On the Internet, being a cute, fluffy, smiling, helpful dog is probably one of the best things a brand or person can try to be.
Now, you should know that some of my favorite people in the online ether are quite sharp, witty, and quick.
But even their worst bite is mostly self-deprecating. And, when it is pointed at others, it is aimed at people and things much bigger than them, not smaller.
They poke at Big Meanies like racism, sexism, and the other aggravating foibles of the negative forces that hold us down...unless we learn how to laugh at them. Together.
Some brands have also successfully taken on this type of clever but uplifting personna.
Famously, Taco Bell, Oreo, M&Ms, Old Spice, and Zappos do a great job at using humor to be engaging, charming, funny, helpful, and the best versions of what the brand embodies to their fans.
Even a catastrophic social media mistake by DiGiorno didn’t permanently take down the brand, because they had built up so much good will, and were so quick and forthright with a heartfelt apology.
How can you or your company be your best self online?
Here are 5 social media tips for companies and brands who want to “be a dog” online:
1. Be Authentic. But Be Upbeat.
It’s easier to be buoyant (but not come across as fake or sappy) when you feel an honest, real connection to something or someone.
What genuinely moves you?
Sure, your product or service is a great source for online content marketing, but you can avoid repetition and inject some exciting authenticity into your online presence by championing events, partners, employees, ideas, causes, and other providers you love.
Are their other characteristics associated with your company that distinguish you from your competitors? Perhaps your brand’s history, or the city your company is built in are special to you.
Does your business contribute to animal rights groups? Does your company sponsor a fun run or a summer concert series? Or do you just love shoes so darn much that you make other people love them, too?
Just like a dog’s unbridled enthusiasm in the simplest things breeds joy in everyone around it, so can you and your brand.
You can’t help but smile when you see a happy dog with its face out the window, or splashing in a pond.
Celebrate what makes you genuinely happy, excited, or proud of your company, and others will catch the fever, too.
Even brands with the worst reputations (such as Chicago’s infamous Malört, known as “a liqueur that no one likes but everyone loves”) can find success by embracing their unique identity.
The Internet is the place to find your tribe and be celebrated for who you are.
No matter what your passions are, don’t be afraid to openly express them. People love ugly dogs BECAUSE they’re ugly.
2. Always Strive to Add Value! Give Away Your Best Material - For Free.
Adding value online through a strategic content marketing program establishes you as an authority on your product or service.
This means buyers are likely to find you in the online information-gathering phase of their purchase; well before they actually make the decision to buy.
By posting valuable information (sales, maintenance instructions, tips, behind-the-scenes info, videos) to your blog or on social media, you can drive traffic to your website, increase engagement, and improve conversions.
Not sure where to start? How about by providing answers to some of the most-asked questions you receive?
You know your brand and your product better than anyone. By anticipating routine questions from clients or prospective customers and providing answers, you will establish yourself as an expert online even before your fans are ready to become buyers.
Does your hotel accept dogs? Let potential guests know with a Facebook post that gives tips for traveling with pets.
Are you a Realtor who has a thorough knowledge of her sales territory? Why not write a blog post that demonstrates just how well you know the area, demonstrating how helpful you would be at finding just the right home for a potential buyer.
How else do customers find you online? What questions do they type into search engines when they are looking for the product or service you offer?
More from our blog: 5 Reasons Why You Should Start A Digital Advertising Campaign Today
Target your posts to answer these questions and you should have a great lead on value-added material that customers will want to see.
But shouldn’t you be charging for this amazing content?
A dog will walk right up to a stranger and drop its favorite toy at their feet. Why? Because it knows that odds are good you will throw it.
They not only get toy back (over and over! New toy!) but now they have leveraged the toy into an even better opportunity to engage and play.
When you add value online, customers will take your toy, yes, but they will also engage with you.
Be ready for them to throw it back by following up with new questions, visiting your website, and converting themselves into buyers!
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Slow
All of this sounds wonderful.
I build a website, dabble on Facebook a little, tweet out a few links, and suddenly: customers!
Social media and content marketing are not a sprint. It can take time to find and build your brand’s voice.
But this can be a blessing. By starting small, and gaining reach authentically, you have a chance to make your mistakes on a smaller scale, amongst friends.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a ton of followers right away, or if you don’t immediately have the likes, clicks, and shares that you want.
Be patient, be loyal, and be consistent with your marketing. Posting regularly works.
Pay attention to analytics, and adjust your content and timing accordingly.
Just like when a dog offers a familiar, friendly face and a persistent attitude of positivity and goodwill, your brand will eventually win over friends and fans!
4. Let Your Voice Be Heard
After you have established a comfortable online persona, let it rip!
Post on blogs you follow, leave comments on Facebook for businesses you admire, ask questions through Twitter and LinkedIn.
You will not only build SEO value for your brand by doing this, but just like a lovable dog, you’ll also be playing nice with others where they live.
Don’t be afraid to start a conversation, ask for advice, pay someone a compliment, or just say hi! Everyone likes to feel heard, seen, and acknowledged.
Just like a dog has no fear or shame when it comes to getting petted, capitalize on the anonymity of the Internet to lose all of your social inhibitions online.
Do what might seem unthinkable in real life...walk right up to someone you like, admire, or want to work with, and say hi, great job, love your work. Pet me.
5. Share the Love
Similarly, when someone favorites your tweet, shares your content, or says something nice about you online, try to acknowledge it.
You can never go wrong by simply saying “Thank you.”
You can also take the positivity further by sharing, favoriting, and complimenting reciprocally.
You will make fast friends online by being genuine and positive. Share praise, favorite and retweet content that others create that you admire (even competitors!)
Don’t be afraid to spread the wealth and share the love.
Just as a dog’s altruistic affection is almost impossible not to reciprocate, your positivity will come back to you online, through business relationships, and in real life.
Who’s a good dog? You are! Woof!
Who are your favorite people and brands online? What makes you glad to see them in your newsfeed? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Let us help you establish and implement your brand’s online identity, strategy, and content marketing plan. Contact us today to learn more.