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Consumers seem to have fairly clear ideas about brand personalities on social media, and the use of slang isn’t an appealing aspect. In a new study from Sprout Social, roughly 1,000 US social media users weighed in on brand personalities, with most feeling that it’s “cool” if brands talk about timely events, but not politics. (In related news, consumers aren’t that interested in brands taking public stances in on social issues.)

Meanwhile, respondents are most accepting of the use of video clips (83% seeing this as “cool” rather than “annoying”), though the exploding use of GIFs – which brands starting incorporating in their emails back in 2013 – isn’t met with quite as much fervor (58% approving as “cool”).

It stands to reason that most would be happy with brands responding to questions, although separate data from the report suggests that only about one-third of consumer messages on social media in Q1 that needed a response actually got one…

Behaviors that more social media users see as “annoying” than “cool” include:

  • Making fun of competitors (67% annoying) and customers (88%);
  • Using slang (69%); and
  • Talking politics (71%).

The subset of Millennials interviewed were more on board with the use of GIFs, with making fun of competing brands, and with the use of slang. But even so, only a minority of younger respondents found it cool to use slang or make fun of other brands.

Instead of being trendy and/or snarky, brand voice primarily should come across as honest (86%), friendly (83%) and helpful (78%), according to other results contained in the report. These behaviors seem fairly similar to what one would want from a store associate… Though they’re also akin to the core values that consumers want brands to embody.

In a puzzling result, only 39% of respondents said they wanted brands to be politically correct. That’s despite previous research from Sprout Social indicating that many social media users – particularly Gen Xers – will unfollow a brand for posting offensive content. Perhaps it’s just the term “PC” that’s offensive…

Finally, there are some industries that should bother with all of this more than others. Respondents to this latest survey are most likely to want personality from Media/Entertainment, Consumer Goods, and Travel/Hospitality brands. But the Banking and Utilities industry – and the Government – can stick to being wallflowers.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 1,003 US social media users.

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