Social media may be about self revelation — but it may really be about image. If somebody wants to be seen as a globe-hopping adventurist all they have to do is blast their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with pictures and updates from the trips that they take. They probably won’t be giving status updates from the desk they occupy 11 months out of the year.
The point is, through social media you can control the way people view you. Social media is giving the world a glimpse at your life. Since you can control the glimpse that is being given, you control the way that the world perceives you. This doesn’t just apply to individuals, but is also true for businesses.
Let’s take The North Face for example. North Face makes outdoor apparel and equipment. Jackets, mid layers, tents, packs, you name it. If you check out their social media, they have pictures and videos of people summiting mountains, bombing glaciers on snowboards, hiking through remote and breathtaking locations, and doing other amazing and exciting things. You would never guess that The North Face is owned by Vanity Fair, a company that’s dedicated to fashion.
This shows how social media and self image are so closely related. The North Face wants to be identified with fun, excitement, and outdoor adventure. They want their customers to see mountaineers wearing a North Face logo and think, “Hey, if I buy this jacket I will be able to go anywhere and do anything!”. And they have been successful in doing so.
If you ask most people their thoughts on North Face, they will associate it with the outdoors and adventure. It’s true that North Face makes technical equipment, but they are primarily a fashion company that has been able to market a lifestyle.
When you stop to think about it, outdoor apparel isn’t very attractive. Most soft or hard shell jackets companies are making these days leave you looking like a phosphorescent space man. What is attractive is the implied lifestyle that comes with wearing the jacket.
The North Face brought in $2 billion in revenue in 2013. They wouldn’t have accomplished that by putting their clothing on models and saying, “Buy our very bright clothing made from strange materials!”. They are successful because they show people dangling off mountainsides and promises of excitement.
This isn’t a new form of marketing. Advertising an image or a lifestyle has been around for years and years. But it has become more potent through social media. Social media offers a constant outlet to cultivate and promote an image. Instead of seeing a one-page add in a a magazine twice a year, you are getting daily updates and pictures and videos from a company telling you who they are and what they are about.
With social media you can shape how people view your business. You can be a fashion company that is viewed as a rugged outdoor brand. The trick is identifying your audience and appealing to what they want to see from a company. Just like that globe-hopper who only hops a single month out of the year, you create your image by choosing which information to share.