3 Ways to Avoid Being a "Thirsty" Brand

By Melissa Duko, February 16, 2017

Brands recognize the value in personalization. Connecting with your audience on a tailored level, boosts brand loyalty and consumer engagement.

But when a brand tries too hard to appeal to a target market (ahem Millennials), their efforts can backfire. Instead of being viewed as cool, consumers view them as desperate.

Like a hoard of angsty teens, consumers will take to Twitter and other social platforms to mock brands. In fact, there’s a Twitter account @BrandsSayingBae specifically created to call out brands for their “offensive” use of bae.

Avoid the pitfalls of being a thirsty brand by resonating with your audience the right way.  

1. Be Smart With Your Slang 

It’s easy to think of slang as a quick way to connect with audiences. Throw a ‘bae’ or ‘on fleek’ into a tweet, and suddenly you’re speaking “Millennial.”

Eh, not exactly.

80% of the top 50 global brands are posting on social media. But not all are succeeding in their use of slang. Here are a few reasons why some brands’ slang soars, while others’ sinks. 

They Incorporate Slang Into Their Social Media. Social media is a more informal platform than print, making it ideal for a conversational tone. Brands who try to use slang in more traditional forms of advertising are often targeting the wrong audience. Baby Boomers read newspapers, Millennials skim Twitter.

YOLO Example.png

Source: Sprout Social

They Use It in the Right Context. Jokes taken out of context fall flat, same applies to slang. If you’re going to use a Kardashian slang term (e.g. Bible), make sure your audience watches the Kardashians, so the meaning isn’t lost in translation.

Related Post: 5 Steps to Branding Like a Kardashian

It Makes Sense for Their Brand. Again know your audience. Is your brand geared toward Millennials? Current slang will make more sense for your brand than say Baby Boomers.

They Know Slang Has a Shelf Life. Slang has an expiration date. Eventually it will become passe. Knowing when to hang up a word can be hard. But typically when you see a slang word everywhere, it’s reached peak saturation.

Also watch your slang-inspired hashtags. DiGiorno’s #WhyIStayed landed the frozen pizza giant in trouble with domestic violence victims. Always handle your use of slang with care.

2. Don’t Use Bribery to Get Ahead

Offering discounts to get people to ‘like’ or share a product on social media sounds like a brilliant plan. Sure bribery works, for the most part, but it doesn’t cultivate any sense of loyalty. Consumers who falsely like your product will jump ship the second a better offer comes along.

Related Post: Why Incentivizing Your Call Ads Is the Worst Idea

Let’s say you’re trying to get more ‘likes’ for your company’s Facebook page. You ask your current followers to each get 20 friends to ‘like’ your page. In return, those current followers will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad.

Will those 20 new followers buy your product? No. Will that follower who drummed up those 20 ‘likes’ also buy your product? Maybe, maybe not. So, what did you really achieve? More ‘likes,’ but no new purchases.

Thirst Meme.jpg

Source: KnowYourMeme.com

Bribery is a short-term fix, so you’re better off skipping it.

3. Always Stay True to Your Image

Trying too hard doesn’t just apply to social media branding. Last year Microsoft found out what happens when you try too hard in a recruiting email.

Microsoft Email Example.png

Source: Huffington Post

In an email to potential interns, Microsoft went full-on Millennial, committing several “crimes against humanity”:

  • Introduction: Hey Bae Intern <3
  • Event Name: Internapalooza
  • Slang: Hella noms, lots of dranks, best beats, Yammer beer pong tables
  • Closing: Hell Yes to Getting Lit on a Monday Night

Not only was the recruiting email extremely unprofessional and went against company values; not surprisingly, it was deemed offensive by Millennials and immediately went viral.

Related Post: Understanding Millennials: How to Make Them Love Your Brand

Perhaps if a more laidback company had attempted to do this, Millennials might have been more kind. But Microsoft’s image isn’t hip, it’s more parental.  

It’s understandable that brands want to be cool. But there’s trying too hard to be cool, and there’s effortless cool. Which one does your brand want to be? Hopefully the latter.

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Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko is the Senior Editor and Digital Specialist for eZanga and its ad fraud management platform, Anura. She brings to her role more than a decade of journalism and editing experience. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentration business and technical writing, minor Art History. She also has a Master of Science in professional writing for the public and private sector from Towson University. She isn’t afraid to admit that her love for Starbucks is at gold member status. (Since 2011!) More Articles by Melissa Duko