According to a new study from PhaseOne Communications, the answer will always be the latter.
“The very public nature of social media taps into consumers’ public persona—the idealized version of themselves that they want to present to others,” the report states. “This can be quite different from their private selves—those aspects of themselves that, while true, are not for public broadcast.”
Of more than 20 brands PhaseOne studied, Starbucks ranked highest in social media engagement. “Starbucks becomes the embodiment of their consumers’ idealized selves, seeking experiences uniquely their own,” a press release from the firm states.
Social media messages that appeal to the private self tend not to work, the report finds. But those that enable a customer to say something appealing about him- or herself, something that builds the customer’s online image, drive engagement. Brand statements that give customers that opportunity should drive communication strategies, the report’s authors contend.
The ‘me’ statement
Each brand needs something the report’s authors call a “me statement,” a way of articulating how the brand and its customers’ public images can become intertwined.