Designing for Social Media (or ‘How to Maintain Your Brand in New Waters’)


Have you ever noticed that an ad that is hilarious on television doesn’t really translate to radio or print very well? Probably because there are certain elements (visuals, motion, etc.) that make it work in that medium. When developing a print ad for that same product, there are different considerations… limitations… and opportunities. The creative has to match the medium being used.

Why is it, then, that so many companies think that whatever they are doing in print (or even on their website) is going to work within the social media realm? It is a unique avenue, too. Right?

If you’ve made it this far, then I can surmise that either a) you are intrigued by this concept, b) you agree with this logic or c) you think I am full of it. That’s cool. I’m a big boy. I can handle that. But let’s look at this a little more, shall we?

Take a look at this…

On the left, we have the WSJ home page. On the right, their Music Blog. Something tells me that they don’t “get it.” A blog is designed to invite input… To get a conversation started… To ‘interact’ with the viewer. This blog just looks like another page of the newspaper, doesn’t it? I’m not feeling engaged on this page. Are you?

OK… So check this one out…

Notice anything different here? Sure, they maintained the same look and feel (that’s what branding is all about!). But, they have also made it really easy to comment on a story (aka – engagement), they have downplayed their logo and they have links at the bottom of the page to all their SM accounts (Twitter, FaceBook, Flikr, etc.). THIS is what a blog is about! The design maintains their corporate brand, but is geared exclusively for the world of social media.

Southwest Airlines is embracing social media like few other companies are… And it’s working for them! With over 1 million followers on Twitter alone, that puts them in celebrity category.

This week is a big week for Southwest Airlines and for the OKC Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Christi Day (the ‘voice’ of SWA’s social media efforts) is going to be speaking at the monthly luncheon – Thursday (3/11/10) at 11:30 at Will Rogers’ Theatre. This is an opportunity for you to hear the secrets to their success in this realm.

Plus, Robyn Promotions is sponsoring the event, so you KNOW there will be some fantastic swag to be had. And Daniel Gordon (Samuel Gordon’s Jewelers) is giving a a diamond to one lucky attendee!

See you at the AMA meeting on Thursday!


4 thoughts on “Designing for Social Media (or ‘How to Maintain Your Brand in New Waters’)

  1. Excellent post Brian. Southwest Airlines is a company that clearly “gets” social media and knows how to tailor their brand’s message to fit all of their marketing efforts. Can’t wait to hear what Christi Day has to share with us on Thursday!

    1. Thanks, Stew… I expect to hear some great stories and pick up some useful tips from Christi Day on Thursday. And a little bling from Daniel Gordon would be nice, too! 🙂

  2. Bravo! It’s all about understanding exactly what engages the user, figuring out how to implement it and then designing the site.

    Of course, like SW Airlines, you gotta actually go out and interact with the community to ensure people visit your blog. 🙂

    Looking forwards to Thursday!

    1. Exactly!

      Being the zen master of usability, I know you fully understand how important it is to design with your visitors in mind. It’s not just about what YOU want to get across, but what THEY want when they come.

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