The ABCs of winning followers on social media

Brands like Wendy’s and KFC are grabbing kudos for their style and swagger on social media. Here are three rules for replicating their success.

With every witty comeback or flawless roast, a millennial consumer is won.

Whether you call it “going viral” or “increasing customer engagement,” some brands just win on social media.

Like digital curb appeal, social media draws in consumers by showing an attractive exterior. However, digital curb appeal isn’t a façade, but a reflection of the brand’s unique values. Just as an elaborate window display fronting a dismal interior angers shoppers, social media must lead consumers to a company whose values match its projected brand.

Here are the ABCs of mastering digital curb appeal:

1. “A” is for authenticity.

Authentic brands are human brands. An organization’s social media presence shouldn’t reflect a corporate machine; it should have a human quality, which can be achieved through responses to followers and their concerns.

Wendy’s is frequently cited as a leader in achieving such social media success. Brandon Rhoten, the head of media, advertising and digital/social for Wendy’s, said Wendy’s has established a distinct voice based on Chris Pratt from”Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“We don’t have any superpowers and we’re not superhuman,” said Rhoten. “We’re just a regular guy who happens to be funny and a little sarcastic.”

2. “B” is for bold.

One brand’s crisis can be another’s window of opportunity. Joining a conversation in a bold way can bring exposure and highlight an organization’s leadership qualities. Brands that are successfully bold on social media aren’t afraid to take risks, but know where to draw the line.

Organizations suffer when they sacrifice empathy for boldness. One such example is Cinnabon. When Carrie Fisher passed away, Cinnabon posted [LINK 2] a picture of her as Princess Leia but replacedher classic “Star Wars” hairstyle with a Cinnabon Classic Roll. Cinnabon tweeted, “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.”

It came across as if Cinnabon was capitalizing on a tragic occurrence, and it drew a backlash.

3. “C” is for clever.

Quick wit and a touch of sass earn attention and this job requires a good sense of humor.

When a Twitter user messaged Southwest Airlines to complain about a rude flight attendant, a representative apologized and asked for more details. The troll replied with a picture of Britney Spears in a flight attendant costume from the “Toxic” music video. Southwest responded with a priceless comeback, commenting, “Opps [sic], she did it again.”

Defining a social media presence really isn’t as difficult as it seems. By being authentic, bold and clever, brands gain massive social media followings among millennial consumers.

Grace Turner is a senior public relations student at The University of Alabama and a writer/editor for Platform Magazine.

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