Do You Think About Your Social Brand?
Of course you do, you say!
But as I am increasingly spending my days talking to companies about how they use social media, I am struck by how there can be some drift in social from the brand guidelines and principles that are adopted as religion by traditional online and offline marketers.
I think the “branding challenge” for social marketers is in many ways, quite different than it is for traditional marketers. Traditional marketers do have a tough job in today’s crowded online and offline environments, but at least they have relative control over how the company brand is expressed and positioned to their target audience.
Not to state the obvious…
This is not exactly the case in social. While a community manager has control over the tone and voice of the brand in various channels, and certainly the content, he or she cannot control what people say, what topics they want to talk about and what type of commentary they deem worthy to make on a variety of topics. The community manager has to work with the value proposition of the brand, but in a way, cannot directly manipulate the brand experience itself.
While the website is at a very basic level, the modern version of a brochure, once integrated into a social environment it becomes a customer service channel, talk radio station and trade show booth all rolled into one. Twenty-Four Hours A Day. This is daunting stuff, especially for marketing departments who have traditionally been used to creating ad campaigns and marketing collateral, among other tasks.
Social Media is very different, and requires multiple paradigm shifts at once. Processes are changed and workflows shifted. New job descriptions are hammered out, and oh yes… where is all that content going to come from? All of a sudden, the copywriter is king again.
How is the thinking emerging about brand in social?
But as all this gets sorted, as it does in one way or another, and social channels are at least up and running, how is the thinking emerging around brand? How much control do companies expect to have over the brand experience in social communities? What are the most exciting opportunities to express and enforce the brand’s promise? How does a marketer build and nurture social channels that are aligned to the brand’s platform, and enforce that all important value proposition of the brand? Is it even the marketer’s job anymore?
What if all people want to do online is complain about products or services? Doesn’t this become the job of the team over on the customer service side of the business? Well, how is the brand voice expressed in the call centre anyways? Worlds collide, and it’s complicated. The questions and challenges will be different for every company.
Companies need to develop a perspective on their social brand…
What is common is the need for companies to, at the very least, develop a perspective on their social brand. And in order for this to happen, there needs to be clarity and understanding within the organization around the DNA and structure and positioning of that brand, and the all important value proposition of the brand. When this is cracked, and coupled with clear objectives around the purpose of the “investment in social”, the world is the social marketer’s oyster.
For some good, solid thought provoking reading on brands, and brand positioning, check out Ashley Konson’s blog on Branding. Ashley is a brand consultant, and the award winning Course Director for the MBA Brand Management program at the Schulich School of Business, and Adjunct Faculty at the S P Jain School of Global Management based in Dubai, Singapore and Sydney, Australia. Ashley’s recent post on brand platforms got me thinking about this topic, he has got some good robust content.
It is well worth the time for social teams to take some time out and refresh collective memories on their company’s brand and brand positioning in the marketplace- and really be honest about how the brand value proposition is addressed in social channels. This effort will ensure that the brand experience is an important part of the discussion around the social marketing effort.
This post was written by Ruth Bastedo. Ruth Bastedo is Director, Business Development at Social Media Group. Follow @rutbas
Maggie Fox is the founder, CEO and Chief Marketing Officer of Social Media Group, established in 2006 and one of the world’s most highly respected independent agencies helping business navigate the socially engaged Web. Pioneers in their field, Social Media Group has helped some of the best-known brands in Europe and North America get social, including Ford Motor Company, SAP, RBC, 3M and ...