By Noah Greenwood
How should a business transform itself into a brand? To ask the question is to begin a long but necessary review of marketing, communication, technology and the use (or too often, the misuse) of social media; because the latter is not – and companies should stop trying to make it be – a platform for naked self-promotion, corporate boilerplate and narcissistic rhetoric that resonates with no one and alienates just about everyone. The challenge before us is, therefore, twofold: What not to say, and what – or how – to say all that is necessary, informative, and even inspiring on behalf of the product or service you represent.
I issue this statement with plenty of energy – literally – because, as the Founder and CEO of Mantis Energy and as a prolific user of Instagram, I know how competitive my respective industry is; and how important it is for me to stand out by standing up, so to speak, by saying what is right and complementary on behalf of my vision for this company. I also know how easy it is for social media in general, to descend into nothing more than a series of sentence fragments, links and pretty pictures; a nonverbal means of communication that is not worth a thousand words – because, if you cannot or will not express yourself fully, you will post little worth remembering.
It’s what you drink. It’s the edge of Old World living, of butlers and servants and chauffeurs and private tutors, not the edginess of a huge mortgage and the stress of everyday life with its inner clouds of doubt and regret. It’s the energy to pursue – and enjoy – the good life, with its rewards and amenities, where you can relax within your estate, recline poolside at the hotel or resort of your choice, or rest in the backseat of your vintage Rolls-Royce. It’s who you are. It’s what you do. It’s what you drink. #EnergyDrink, #EnergyDrinks, #EnergyShot, #EnergyShots, #EnergyBoost, #EnergyBooster, #EnergyBoosters, #Caffeine, #SportsDrink, #SportsDrinks, #NoSugar, #SugarFree, #LowCalorie, #LowCalories, #HoneydewMelon, #Honeydew, #MantisEnergy.
I propose, instead, the idea of branding as storytelling. That is, companies need to showcase their values – they need to display their aspirations – with words and pictures. And there is no story to tell, and there is no tale to read, which is nothing more than a few pieces of self-congratulatory prose. Take the viewer on an adventure – depict a lifestyle, as well as your style of living – that informs as much as it inspires.
This is not an easy task, but it is an indispensable one, since you should labor over every phrase and toil over every sentence; you should sweat the proverbial small stuff because, cumulatively, it constitutes the big stuff of sales and marketing; it reflects the values you represent and the virtues you uphold, so consumers have no doubts about what you believe and what you seek to achieve.
I do not expect my words to revolutionize social media because that is not the point of this exercise. I do, however, expect my words and pictures to transform the dialogue I have with my consumers; to give them the respect they crave, the attention they want and the dialogue they hope to receive.
If I can accomplish those things, if I can get more companies to follow my lead so I may walk (virtually) beside them, then social media will improve for the better. It will enhance the tone and quality of conversation, attracting more people to a discussion that is as relevant as it is riveting; as powerful as it is poignant.
That is the purpose of social media, now and forevermore.