By: Harrison Tabb
Brand Communication Strategy
Have you ever wondered how or why a brand advertises the way they do? How customers react to the brand’s content and “likes” are the main factors. While “likes” are a direct indicator of the performance of an ad, likes also enhance brand connections, customer engagements, and online brand endorsements (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1028). Strategizing effective in-feed advertising can help brands present themselves with humanistic qualities and encourage social media users to interact with brands. Frequently, we find ourselves checking the legitimacy of brands we haven’t heard of by looking at reviews or simply looking at the amount of likes an ad receives. How a brand utilizes human characteristics within its messaging can affect impressions, relationships, and the persuasiveness of its messages.
Successful In-feed Advertising
In-feed advertising has the potential to annoy or captivate its audience. Oftentimes in-feed advertising can be the first thing social media users see, and if it sends the wrong message, viewers can be turned away from the brand or product. We often find ourselves looking for cues or qualities to make brands more relatable and appealing to create personal connections with a brand we want to identify with. Similar to how nobody is perfect, no brand is perfect. A brand adopting humanistic qualities can send different types of messages that can alter our perceptions of a brand. The two main types are “warmth” and “competence” (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1028).
Messages that are perceived as warm typically make a person or brand seem kind, friendly, trustworthy, and helpful (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1028). Try to be mindful the next time you use social media and think about how a particular advertisement makes you feel. Without being cognizant of how an advertisement can make you feel, specific messages can easily persuade you. Pairing certain types of language with warm advertisements can enhance or detract from an intended message. For example, when brands create messaging to display warmth, using first-person language will make the brand more likable. This effect will make customers feel a need for social belonging that can be fulfilled by associating themselves with the brand (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1041).
Inversely to warmth, brands can portray competence through their messaging to make customers feel a sense of intelligence, power, or that the product is highly effective (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1028). Notice how many advertisements that make a product seem highly effective do not rely on emotions but instead demonstrate the product or service’s potential. Rather than relying on first-person narration, third-person narration can be used to make brands seem more competent and grab consumers’ attention (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1031). Some major brands that advertise the effectiveness of a product often use this approach rather than an emotional appeal because it displays the product or service’s capabilities. This can lead people to desire a product because of the experience they’re selling rather than the product itself.
Branded Content and Consumer Engagement
A brand can choose to personify itself through varying human qualities, but it takes effort and careful analysis to ensure that the image of the brand aligns with the audience it intends to reach. When consumers can clearly see the brand’s personality, they’re more likely to engage with posts, and advertisements will feel less commercially intrusive (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1031). Deciding whether we want to identify with a brand because of its personality, what they stand for, or even just the design of its logo is a choice we make every time we decide what to buy. As we become more acquainted with a brand, we will often look to that brand to satisfy our needs through brand loyalty.
Managing Brand Perceptions and Impressions
Creating successful in-feed advertising requires marketers to understand how they intend for their messages to be perceived. Effectively breaking down what types of narration and images must be combined to create messages can significantly improve a marketer’s potential to influence consumers. An advertisement may perform well on some platforms but not others because “the same ads in different social media contexts may have different advertising effectiveness” (Chang et al., 2019, p. 1043). However, consistent performance analysis can aid in making necessary and appropriate adjustments to appeal to the specific intended audience. Determining and marketing to an intended audience can be challenging, but understanding whether to use warm or competent messaging can enhance the presentation of the brand and products. While no perfect message can appeal to everyone, accurately matching warmth or competence, first-person or third-person narratives, and images can personify a brand and products to extremely specific audiences. Utilizing these findings can make a brand more engaging and create effective impressions.
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