“You can’t ignore Social Media, it’s your shopfront”, says Eva Bojtos, Social Media Lead and Partner of John Lewis & Partners.

Speaking at MAD//Fest London in July on a Social Media Masterclass panel with Gareth Turner, Head of Brand for Weetabix, both Bojtos and Turner stressed that social should not be considered in isolation and separated from your other communication channels. “It’s part of your wider brand strategy”, said Turner. That some still do not understand this is, in part, why many companies and brands get social wrong.

The voice you speak with on your social channels is the same voice your brand or company have built up over the years. Herein lies the not too surprising secret for how to do social successfully. Firstly, be true to your brand’s identity and secondly, be authentic, (a theme that spanned most sessions at this summer’s MAD//Fest).

For Weetabix this is about pushing the message of good nutrition and “helping people be their best selves”. For John Lewis this is about “replicating and amplifying the great store experience people expect from the brand and to inspire customers by facilitating their shopping mission”. The importance of this channel for John Lewis was never more apparent than during the Lockdowns when digital and social was their shopfront.

Should brands be funny? This is always a quandary for many and once again the answer, as Turner opined, “only if it is authentic to the brand”.

This February Weetabix tweeted an image of two Weetabix being served with Heinz Baked Beans with the message, ‘Why should bread have all the fun’. It garnered over 1.3 billion impressions in a week becoming a viral sensation overnight with comical responses from many other global brands.

However, this tweet was months in the making and was part of a scheduled series of recipe inspirations that always forms part of their advertising. That it proved so successful was not only in part to the fact the tweet was “true to the brand and framed with typical wry British sense of humour” that is authentic to Weetabix, but also because the internal framework had been built so that they could be bold and brave.

Both Bojtos and Turner believe that social does give brands the chance to be ‘bold and brave’. Every so often brand rules will be broken however, both John Lewis and Weetabix have a ‘test and learn’ programme. So whilst not everything a brand tries on social will work Bojtos said that “you now have to engage… no company or brand can be insular”. As she said, “you just can’t ignore the channel” anymore.

Over 8,000 people attended MAD//Fest on 7-8 July in-person and via the virtual platform. Speakers included new KFC CMO Jack Hinchliffe, S4 Capital Executive Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell and Resi Founder Alex Depledge MBE. Full sessions are available now on our YouTube channel.