People Relate to People, Right?

If social media is inherently about people, why do corporations almost always use corporate logos as their default social media avatars? I guess the obvious answer is that corporations aren't people, they are things and the default representation of these things (or brands) are logos.

This makes sense, but it doesn't make me want to listen to or converse with a logo. I follow many logo profiles on Twitter and Facebook, but I rarely interact with them. In fact, I rarely read anything they (or is that it?) have to say. I think I have just trained my eyes and brain to skip over these tweets and updates.

Here's a random set of credit union Twitter avatars to illustrate my point.

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The disconnect for me is that there are real people behind these logos and I want to peel back the logo to meet them. They are probably funny and interesting but when I do catch myself reading these logo tweets, I am left cold. No matter how witty or informative, there is a lack of identity and personality. There is no life to a corporate logo, no matter how nicely designed it is. Unless I have met the person behind the logo, I am always left wondering who just wrote that?

Compare this approach to celebrities and popular online personalities. These people are brands as much as Best Buy and America Express are brands, but they have real personality, they have eyes and smiles and emotion. Granted, some of the mega stars aren't updating their own accounts but at least it feels like they are!

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Your immediate reaction may be, "Corporations aren't people" or "Our people aren't celebrities, therefore, why would we use a person to represent our credit union online?" or "This is too dangerous, our reputation could be at stake" or "We want to build our brand, not the brand of someone who might be gone in six months."

All valid concerns. Personally, I've always preferred a hybrid approach that showcases who is behind the logo while at the same time building the brand. That's the approach that we've taken with all of our marketing programs and it works really well. We've got a few logo profiles out there and I can tell you firsthand that the number of real interactions with our real-people profiles far eclipse that of our logo profiles.

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I scoured the web for examples of this hybrid approach and I could only find a few profiles outside of our marketing programs. Julie from Coast Capital (top center) was the only other financial services example I could find. This tells me that it's either a very unpopular approach or that people haven't really considered this as an option.

This may be just a personal pet peeve of mine. What do you think, am I out to lunch?

Tim

Tim McAlpine lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. He is the President and Creative Director of Currency Marketing, an integrated marketing agency specializing in helping credit unions attract the next generation of members. Tim is best known as the creator of Young & Free.

Posted on February 21, 2012 and filed under Author: Tim McAlpine.