For the last few years Sony has been working harder to improve the way it engages with its audience using storytelling techniques

Tim Lion is the European head of social media at Sony and during his talk at last week’s Festival of Marketing he admitted that it would be “a fallacy to suggest that what they were doing was a roaring success”.

However finding the right tone and content to connect with an audience is a lengthy process that takes a great deal of trial and error, especially if you’re a brand that’s just used to broadcasting technical specs for the last 70 years to an incumbent audience.

Things are improving though, and Lion’s social team seems to be learning from its mistakes.

Social misses

In Summer 2014 the Brazil World Cup gave official sponsor Sony an excuse to blanket bomb its social feeds with football related content for six whole weeks.

Sony quickly saw engagement drop during this period, as its audience got bored, stopped paying attention and Sony’s posts tumbled out of newsfeeds.

The lessons from this were certainly learnt. Adding variety to your content is absolutely vital. Mixing things up and not alienating a segment of your audience with a single focus is vital.

History

Delving deep into the archives to reveal your brand’s history is an effective to way to add heritage to your brand. Reminding people that you’ve been around for a long time and survived major changes will generate trust and authenticity.

Sony has plenty of material that proves its legacy, with some powerful images of its founders.

Recirculating some vintage adverts is always a fun way to reconnect and nostalgia can be a powerful tool. These are taken from Sony’s Pinterest page… http://www.pinterest.com/sonyelectronics/old-school-sony-ads/ 

Of course you don’t even need to go back too far. Reminding people that your brand is responsible for producing one of their all-time favourite childhood movies works too…

Personal connections

Using actual human stories behind product development can help bring understanding and an emotional connection to electronic products.

When Marsaru Ibuka, the co-CEO of Sony, was developing the Walkman he would spend hours listening to it at home with his headphones on while his wife looked on in consternation. This led Ibuka to add a second headphone jack to the unit so two people could listen as the same time.

It’s a sweet-natured story, a million miles away from the faceless corporation that we previously Sony to be.

Blog

Sony UK has a community page, which is home to monthly photography competitions and its regularly updated blog.

The most recent blog post is intriguingly titled ‘What do snowflakes, peacock feathers and broccoli all have in common?’ 

The answer is fractals. This post explains what fractals are, shows some beautiful examples of them then simply relates this at the end to its 4K high definition products.

It’s not the most sophisticated of advertorials and the sales intent is clear but at least it ticks the ‘interesting’ box when it comes to making engaging content and saves the product till the end.

A more successful post is ‘here’s how music makes you happy’ which discusses at length the psychology of music. It contains no direct sales message whatsoever.

Difficulties

When you’re a legacy brand that’s been around for three-quarters of a century it’s hard to suddenly be confronted with a marketing landscape that’s completely shifted towards personal connections. 

It’s even more difficult when your brand is essentially a huge umbrella with vastly different concerns underneath it (gaming, movies, music, electronics, photography) and a global operation taking in every major territory.

Sony has created its own world with some generation defining products, and although achieving personal engagement will be a hard task, it is beginning to learn that having a personality and being authentic are integral to surviving today’s market.

Further reading…

For more on content and social strategy from the blog, check out the following posts: