From the experience through the past few years of being online, I now believe that 'being at a braai' is how South African brands and products need to approach social media. If you actually engage with the people standing round the braai and show some interest in them, at some point in the future you just might be given the honor of being the braai-meister and be allowed to hold the braai-tongs. Good friendships take time to develop and social media friendships are no different.
If you're a very un-human brand or a product like dog food or vehicle tracking it's often really difficult to enter the social media space without seeming like a bit of a door to door salesman. I have reviewed some classic social media tone of voice documents through the years where products try to set the boundaries of social media conversation for their social marketing teams that make them totally dull and uninspiring - 'formal yet friendly' or 'responsible and inoffensive'. I'm not recommending that you drink and type when you're managing a Facebook page, but no social media guide ever says 'post 140 empty characters' or 'tweet like you're a 90 year old man'.
The first thing we always do with brand focused social media is to make sure that members of the social team working the account actually have some affinity for the product category - you can easily tell online when a page admin is not a genuine fan or a junior social media manager - if you're being paid to do the social media for a cat food brand then you must employ (or be) a crazy cat lady who happily spends all day tweeting about cats and making 'skwee' noises. Don't talk about how crunchy and tasty your cat food is, talk about how having cats around makes you feel as a human, share all of your hilarious cat stories that your fellow crazy cat friends haven't heard before. At the cat fans online braai you'll be the most popular person there, hands down.
The second thing we do is set loose boundaries for the social conversation, not tight ones. If you've got nothing to say, then don't fill the space with bland brand messaging - conversely if cool things are happening for your brand, don't feel bad if you've done 20 social media updates on your page in a day. When I'm on holiday and want to make all my friends see me in my speedo, that’s exactly what I do - I'll share loads of social content about the same activity across a number of different social channels.
If you want to invite me to your next braai, need marinade ideas or strategic advice for your brand or agency on social media, please drop me a mail
Disclaimer: the person who wrote this was originally born in the UK where they have bar-b-que's, but he does know how to light a fire and has tried a Castle lager once