In the world of social media, a brand can be whatever it wants. The onus is on the brand to find its voice and from there find the opportunity within its audience.
The key is to brand (or in many cases rebrand) in a way that will grow your audience, not alienate your current one. To do this you have to understand your audience and create a plan that will engage them.
IHOP quietly rebranded itself through Twitter by adopting what it calls a “hip hop” tone. The agency who manages the account knew that its audience skewers young and that it needed to alter its voice to grow that audience.
This is a unique case. Can you think of another brand that changed it’s entire social voice, not just as part of a campaign?
Several of IHOP’s hip hop tweets have been shared relentlessly and its new voice has been discussed quite a bit. They have also seen their audience increase by 18%, while drawing some mockery from competitors.
Utilizing the jargon that most associate with hip hop, IHOP was determined to talk the talk and ensure that they came across as genuine.
The danger was in alienating users of their fan base who didn’t understand the lingo and found the tweets to confusing or obnoxious. It’s always a smart idea to grow your most prominent demographic, but you don’t want to break even on the total number.
As of now, this appears to be a win for IHOP, and also as a win for brands who want to shift gears and change their voice. This comes with some much inherent risk, so they might not be in the clear just yet.
IHOP did it strategically and only after they had amassed enough information and data to know that this was the right way to go. The growth of IHOP’s online audience will be further evidence that this risk can come with great reward.
Have you ever considered changing the voice of your social presence?