Affiliation – we all have needs
Social Media is about affiliation. Affiliate is defined as “to bring or receive into close connection as a member or branch; or to connect or associate oneself”.
Social Media provides the vehicles where connections and links are created between like-minded individuals and/or people with common interests. Communities are created among those who share occupations, specialization, recreation, hobbies, life stage, lifestyle and more, which foster a sense of belonging.
As individuals, we participate in diverse activities, fulfilling several roles within any given day: significant other, parent, child, businessperson, colleague, friend, consumer and client, among many others.
While for each of these roles, there is a quintessential you – the fundamental person who, at this point in time, is the culmination of one’s life experience (so far) and attitudes– distinct qualities and characteristics are called to the fore to fulfill whichever part you need to be, whatever circumstances require.
If we agree that we adapt ourselves to the different environments and associated expectations in the various areas of our lives, which helps enhance the experience of belonging, then it might be fair to say that we generally try to be appropriate to the circumstances. Making an effort to blend in helps satisfy the sense of affiliation (and vice versa).
Consistency is Important
I have been looking at a number of competitive sites within a particular industry as homework for a project. What I have noticed most markedly is that, no matter the channel; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube being the main contenders, the character of the company presence/page is exactly the same across all Social Media Sites. This is a problem.
Consistency is important to establish and maintain your identity, to help ensure recognition, to build awareness and stand out from the competition.
However, as discussed earlier, it is not appropriate to be totally consistent in every single environment or circumstance. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the requirements or a disinterest in fitting in.
Targeting is Equally Important
It is important for companies to tweak their presence to “fit” the different Social Media channels; while consistency is important for recognition, uniformity doesn’t work.
First, it demonstrates an understanding of the channel, the reason why it is important to be there and how participation/presence will help achieve what it hopes to accomplish in the environment.
Secondly it shows it is in touch with the audience it wants to reach; their needs and their reason for being in each particular community.
The best example is Facebook versus LinkedIn. There are excellent reasons to be a member of both, and thus, while the same people may be on both Social Media sites, they are there for very different reasons and with very different representations.
Both networks foster contact. One is friendly, casual and even gossipy. The other is professional, business-like, reserved.
So companies and organizations, in order to fit in and increase your target’s affinity to your company or product, you need to tweak your corporate page according. Your page needs to feel like it belongs in the environment, so that your target identifies with you and feels you have important things in common.
Otherwise, you may stand out – but not in an entirely good way. Like attending a black tie event in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals.