Looking for Social Media Value? Improve Your Warmth and Competence.

“Consumers instinctively judge brands in much the same way they judge other people.”
— Chris Malone, chief advisory officer of The Relational Capital Group

Pop Quiz: How would customers rate your organization on characteristics like “honesty and trustworthiness” and “acts in the customer’s best interests?” While those may seem like far from relevant concerns in the realm of social media, I assure you that they should be among the first things you think about.

Yet another national study has proven that consumers instinctively judge brands in much the same way they judge other people. (It’s called the “warmth and competence model”) And what’s one of the key reasons that brands get into social media? To inject a level of humanity and dialogue not seen in most marketing efforts, of course! In other words…to make their brands more like people…to attract more people.

Yet, it’s not that easy. In the same study, they looked at why Tylenol, who had a large recall in 2010 fared so much better (leagues apart) than BP in the court of public opinion. It’s simple – Tylenol exhibited humanity across their communication channels – which developed trust in their brand. That said, the underlying reason that Tylenol (Johnson & Johnson) was able to do that in the first place stemmed from the selfless servant-marketing attitude that they have toward their customers and that’s ingrained in their corporate culture.

See, social media “value” isn’t really about ROI in many cases. Rather it’s a question of how it fits with your culture and brand attitude. If yours is a brand that could score well on characteristics like “honest and trustworthy” and “acts in the customer’s best interests”, then you’ll likely derive a great deal of value from social media. If not, it may not be the perceived effectiveness of social media but rather your culture that’s holding you back.

Thinking about social media? Before you dive head first into the tools and tactics, have a look at your brand perception and culture through the lens of “warmth” and “competence.”

  • Warmth includes an array of traits such as friendliness, helpfulness, sincerity, trustworthiness and honesty.
  • Competence is reflected by traits such as intelligence, skill, creativity, efficiency and effectiveness.

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