Find Your Social Brand


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These are the slides I presented to the Silicon Valley Intl. Association of Business Communicators. Please share you comments or feedback... Thank you!


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  • Companies face an important balancing act between empowerment and control when it comes to taking their brand to social spacesBrand is really the overlooked piece in a lot of social strategies… you see a lot of discussion on how to succeed on Facebook, or to have an effective blog, or Twitter… but less on how fundamentally companies need to think about their brand
  • 1955: Burleigh Gardner and Sidney Levy publish their paper, “The Product and the Brand”Their ideas changed marketing in a fundamental way… they understood customers form associations with products and companies, and that those associations guided consumer behaviorBrand thinking has become enormously more sophisticated since then and evolved into the discipline of brand management80s: rise of mega-brands and of the real discipline of brand management 90s: 1-on-1 marketing and relationship marketing, all tied to the rise of database marketing…but we’re still in the shadow of Gardner and Levy. Brand for many companies is still about reaching the customer and repeating a compelling, consistent message
  • Here’s why that model doesn’t work anymore. What you say about yourself is drowned out by what others say about youIf you just look at sheer volume of data online, brand-generated content is overwhelmed by user-generated feeds and other data feeds about yoru brand… over 500:1This reflects a massive shift in priority from advertising and other paid media… to EARNED media: brand mentions from othersThis is both opportunity and threat… it means that your brand and messages can be passed along a global distribution network, at zero cost
  • David Meerman Scott social media analogy: like a cocktail partyWe’ve all been to cocktail parties..First 30 seconds: you know who looks cool, who’s interestingWho do we not want to end up stuck next to… who looks like they’ll spend 30 minutes talking about their scrapbooking hobby… or their pet ferretNow imagine your brand at this party – how would it do? What type of people would be interested in interacting with your brand?
  • Your brand… s it:-> interesting->accessible-> engagingWhat do you have to say? How do you say it?Most brands simply don’t do well here. They are not designed for it.
  • Why do so many brands so un-social? Many of the reasons are listed here.When I ask corporate clients to tell me about their brand, I get pointed hereThese are all elements of control – they are designed to enforce consistency in the brand. They are carefully developed and jealously protected.I’m not saying to throw these out… many of them have an important role. But THEY ARE NOT YOUR BRAND. They can suck the air out of your brand, removing anything that is human and genuinely socialCompanies that confuse these elements of brand control, with the brand itself, miss out on their most appealing and social aspects
  • Must more important to your REAL social brand: the people of your company… their ideas, motivations, causes, and yes, their productsThese aspects of who you are as a company are much more important, and compelling, than anything most companies have in their brand guidelinesVery few companies think of these as part of their brand… and do little if anything to share these engaging and human aspects of themselves with the public
  • So how do you build on your existing brand, and develop and express your social brand in social spaces?Well it starts by getting in the conversation93% of internet users believe a company should have a presence in social media (According to Cone Business in Social Media Study)Customers only spend 1% of their time online purchasing a product… the other 99% searching or in interactions and conversations onlineAnd many companies are doing very little or nothing at all to get into the conversation
  • Start with the audiences that already feel some kind of connection and affinity with you, and through your brand, with each other. i call this the love-the-ones-who-love-you-back rule.Social spaces are fueled by passion; core of passion that you need to build outward and reach others. Next, think about the conversations that fit your brand. Start with ones that are close to your brand… product-focused conversations are fine, if Then, move into brand-adjacent conversations… for instance, McAfee has a blog on cybercrime; P&G on clean water for childrenThose brand-adjacent conversations should be in areas where you can add something valuable to the conversation
  • Great example of a good core-brand conversation… Nokia has a very active blog which does a great job of soliciting feedbackThis recent post asked the users a simple poll question: how many phones do you carry?Collected lots of responses and comments… with a surprising number of respondents saying that they carried two or more phonesMany users took the conversation to the next stage – asking for a dual SIM-card phone so they wouldn’t have to carry more than one phoneA great example of very high-value, specific feedback from users
  • The words “personality” and “corporation” don’t really go togetherBut go back to that cocktail party: the brands that draw a crowd will be the ones that stand out in a real, human way
  • Look at the people in your company who touch social spaces… are they all in marketing? Or all engineers? Try to bring in different voicesFind the people who are sociable – this doesn’t mean that they’re social media experts; those skills can be learned. It means that they enjoy interacting with people and they’re good at itTone matters – set your tone depending on what fits your company… Just don’t be boringBe human – remember that communication is from people, to people… and if you screw up, say you’re sorry
  • Southwest has a very distinctive, playful tone… whether you are on one of their flights or their blog, they are different from others in their industryThat type of tone works for them – it’s who they were, before social media technology even came around – but might not be right for you
  • Survey after survey tells us that trust is at an all time lowCustomers are spammed, misled, and mass-advertised without mercyBy 2020, 84 % of marketers agree that building customer trust will become marketing’s primary objective
  • Make real contributions… without worrying about short term rewards. Provide information and resources that are helpful to your audiencesSharing matters… don’t try to “manage” your users and to create private, closed-off communities of people interacting just around your brandBring in other ideas, link to other sites, and don’t be afraid to expose your audiences to interesting things that don’t come from your companyFinally be honest…. Be clear and direct about your policies… particularly how you manage user comments and negatives. Honor your commitments – if you promise something, live up to it
  • This 3M example is a good cautionary tale for companies abusing trustIt starts with the papered-over Jaguar… this was a viral phenomenon on Flickr and YouTube. Someone’s co-workers pasted post-it notes all over his car3M decided to use the idea without paying for it, or giving credit to the original creator. So they put up these faked images in office supply storesBloggers spread this far and wide, the story was picked up by other media, and it went quickly around the world as a story of 3M plagiarizing the ideas of others
  • Find Your Social Brand

    1. 1. Finding Your Social Brand<br />San Francisco ● Washington, DC ● Seattle<br /><br />
    2. 2. 1955<br />Burleigh Gardner and Sidney Levy:“The Product and the Brand”<br /><ul><li>Customers form enduring associations with a company or product
    3. 3. Those associations guide consumer purchase decisions
    4. 4. Brand value is built through consistent repetition of brand messages</li></li></ul><li>The customer has stopped listening<br />
    5. 5. Brand-generated content is dwarfed by<br />conversations<br />Traditional Brand Content<br />and<br />data feeds<br />about your<br />Social + Data Feeds are over 500x larger<br />brand<br />Source:; Jon Samsel, “Mastering Your Online Marketing Strategy”<br />
    6. 6. “<br />Social media is a cocktail party.<br />David Meerman ScottAuthor, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”<br />
    7. 7. So how would your brand do here?<br />Is it:<br />Accessible?<br />Interesting?<br />Useful?<br />
    8. 8. logos trademarks<br />taglines PR Q&A<br />brand guidelines<br />mission statement<br />company boilerplate<br />messaging framework<br />naming conventions<br />usage restrictions<br />visual brand elements<br />corporate website<br />marketing templates<br />executive talking points<br />product positioning<br />corporate statements<br />Thesedo notmake your brand<br />
    9. 9. people<br />culture<br />ideas<br />contributions<br />products<br />service<br />innovations<br />motivations<br />causes<br />Thesedomake your brand<br />
    10. 10. 1<br />Get in the conversation<br />
    11. 11. 1<br />Get In the Conversation<br /><ul><li>Start with audiences that already care – then build outward
    12. 12. Target the social tools and spaces that fit your audience and your brand</li></ul>Target wisely<br /><ul><li>Product-focused conversations are ok… if that’s what your customers want
    13. 13. Listen more than you talk</li></ul>Enter core-brand conversations<br /><ul><li>Move into conversations related to your brand – only if you have something to add
    14. 14. Maintain brand relevance</li></ul>Enter brand-adjacent conversations<br />
    15. 15. 1<br />Get In the Conversation<br />…<br />
    16. 16. 2<br />Show Your Personality<br />
    17. 17. 2<br />Show Your Personality<br /><ul><li>Recruit compelling voices from across your company
    18. 18. Let them contribute in their own voice</li></ul>Find your stars<br /><ul><li>One that works for your customers and brand
    19. 19. Boring is not a “style”</li></ul>Set your tone<br /><ul><li>Eliminate canned communication and messages
    20. 20. Don’t be afraid to apologize</li></ul>Be human<br />
    21. 21. 2<br />Show Your Personality<br />
    22. 22. 3<br />Build Trust<br />
    23. 23. 3<br />Build Trust<br /><ul><li>Offer information and insight
    24. 24. Focus on substance, not polish</li></ul>Contribute<br /><ul><li>Don’t try to control your users – link freely
    25. 25. Share and attribute the good ideas of others</li></ul>Share<br /><ul><li>Be transparent
    26. 26. Honor your commitments</li></ul>Be Honest<br />
    27. 27. 3<br />Build Trust<br />Some not-so-great responses from the online blog community:<br />“3M Carjacks the Post-It Note Jaguar”<br />“3M’s Post It Note Car: How Not to Do Viral Marketing”<br />“ Learning from the 3M Post-It Note Debacle: Social Media Ethics Defined”<br />Images: Scott Ableman –<br />
    28. 28. Thanks!<br />
    29. 29. Krim Stephenson<br /><br /><br />website<br /><br />blog<br />@arlingtonmill<br />twitter<br />