Welcome to the webcast: Building your brand community with social media. I’m Jen Travis, VP of Online Brand Experience at Parker LePla. Today I’m going to be talking about how to build your brand community using social media. I will be answering your questions at the end of the presentation, so go ahead and send them on in as you have them and I will hold them until the end of the presentation. Let’s get started.
Parker LePla are brand shift strategists. We help companies make shifts in their business strategies, people, communications and their online presence so they can live up to what they promise—offline and online. We’ve written two books about it: Integrated Branding and Brand Driven. We are also in the process of writing our third book dealing with internal branding and the secret to building a strong brand—from the inside out.
We also have a division that works specifically to help companies deliver their brand online—through their websites, their use of social media, their online marketing campaigns and their keywords and tags.
We work with for-profit, public agencies and non-profit organizations of all sizes in the healthcare, technology and service industries. These are just a few of the organizations we have worked with.
I want to start by talking about this sea change that is happening with the advent of web 2.0. It is definitely changing the way brands communicate, but it is also changing the way they do business. It isn’t enough any more to say that your brand is great and you are the best—you have to prove it consistently through your products and the experience you provide and you have to earn the trust. But, most importantly, brands can’t control how people perceive them (they never did, but in the past, with limited information, it was easier to manage the messages you sent out). Brands can only try to influence—and only if they are listening and participating.
The relationship between companies and their customers is no longer about information driven from the top of an organization, out to the customer. A relationship controlled in large part by the company. That relationship is looking more like a dialog and shared decision-making . Like the customer owns a huge stake, along with employees, partners, suppliers, bloggers, fans, champions, etc.. Your brand is looking more like a community.
The old brand model was uni-directional—top down, static brand messaging that sought to control the opinions and behavior of its targets. It went from management to staff to the marketing campaign to the customer and then no one really knew what happened to the brand after that. You would have to do complex surveying, monitoring of media, and watch sales to even get a little bit of the story. It was very difficult to know what customers actually thought about or did with your brand once they received those messages.
We can’t operate in a one way in and one way out model anymore. The new brand model is multi-directional. It has become about engaging participants in a dialog and a long-term engagement (rather than just a one-time product purchase) where they participate in brand-building activities, offer their opinions and spread the word among their friends and networks.
We like to refer to our brand equity pyramid that measures the level of brand equity you have with your customers on a -5 to +5 scale (there is a shadow to this pyramid as well). The goal in building a brand community is to drive your constituents up the brand equity pyramid from awareness to connection. Once they feel engaged and part of the community, that bond is hard to break. Brands that have a major share of their stakeholders in the connection area of the pyramid enjoy a few things like: Price premium for their products or services A safety net in bad times A solid model for brand sustainability because their community becomes a primary source of revenue while their costs decrease for marketing, research, product development etc.
Today’s brands are communities of people that share the same values. They are based on the real value a brand provides (not just what they say, but what they do), and that goes beyond product to an experience that builds relationship with the brand and reflects what’s important to me as a person—it becomes about relationships and the opportunities for self-expression via the brand.
The new brand relationship model that social media created really starts with the individual customer and moves from their experiences with your brand to their networks and peers and then back to the brand—a very fluid and open relationship. It is a shared experience between the individual, their peers and networks and the brand . It takes your brand outside the four walls of the company and allows it to be shaped by employees, customers, other community followers in their own personal experiences and communities. Then, if you’re listening, your brand can use that new brand meaning and those experiences to influence it’s products and messaging and respond to its customers directly, personally and effectively—thereby developing a personal relationship with many individuals (rather than an ambiguous relationship with the masses). So, it is really a mutually beneficial relationship between the brand and its constituents. When looked at in this way, it suggests a new way of thinking about brands.
Read slide A social brand is one that is shaped by all of its constituents and therefore dynamic, always relevant and consistently engaging. This means opening the kimono a little and sharing more to get more—being transparent and authentic and willing to be criticized. It means things like empowering employees to interact with customers on Twitter and Facebook, or testing ideas out with prospects or customers and their networks, or giving customers opportunities to create their own ways of expressing themselves using your brand. An example of this is Red Bull, who holds an art competition, encouraging fans to use their cans to create a piece of art that reflects their personality (and you just happen to have to drink a bunch of red bull in order to have the empty cans). Or, the TV Show Mad Men who inspires people to create their own 60’s avatar using scenes, clothes and hairstyles from the show (people are creating their avatars for facebook and spreading word about the show in the process).
The hallmarks of a social brand are alignment of values, transparency and a conversation. The online experience, particularly in social media, turns out to be the ideal tool for cultivating a social brand because of its innate ability to create and sustain community—whether it’s around Boston terriers, kickball or your product/service. Among all the tools brands have in their tool belts for building brand communities (such as their branded Website Branded events, Product experience, Brand Advertising, and Customer service), social media is key. Two big reasons are that it is inexpensive and pervasive. You can reach a lot of people in a short period of time, with little budget and resources. Social Media, however, must be used wisely. It can turn on a dime and bite you just as quickly (if not quicker) if you aren’t mindful, alert and ready for the conversation you start. And, I don’t just mean the conversation you start online through your Facebook page, blog or web site. I also mean the conversations you start using your product, your marketing, your customer service, your events, and your people. These conversations are equally as important and all contribute to the success of your brand community whether online or offline.
Conversations are happening everywhere and with just about everyone, whether you are writing a blog, posting a review about a product, rating a book online or sharing photos with family, you are participating in social media. It is about finding these events and conversations and harnessing them to build relationships with your customers, your donors, your partners, your suppliers, or whoever you need to establish and maintain a relationship with to stay in business or to stay relevant.
A couple of statistics that may help debunk the myth that this is a passing craze or bound to go away: 60% of Americans use social media, according to the 2008 Cone Business study. 85% of its users believe companies should be online and present in social media conversations, but also be using it to interact with their consumers. 56% of users feel they have a stronger connection with and are better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment. So, this would mean that social media is actually removing the barriers between companies and their customers. And, 93% of social media users are expecting brands to be online and be present in social media—it doesn’t feel intrusive to them, it doesn’t feel like advertising, it feels like a conversation—especially when it is relevant to them, their interests and their lives.
Read slide This is an important statistic that we will only see grow in years to come as measurability increases and the lines between brand communities and other communities blur even more. What we will also start seeing is companies focusing their efforts online and honing their brand communities so that they are manageable, effective and sustainable, which is something that companies will need to tackle once they understand how and why to use social media.
The first step in using social media, is to root your strategy in your brand. Without a brand focus, you risk mixed messages or inauthenticity that could spread like wildfire and do more damage than good. A recent example of this is Microsoft with their “Laptop Hunters” ad campaign, which presents an interesting case study around the importance of being transparent and honest in today’s digitally connected world, particularly if your audience includes tech savvy people. Some fans of Microsoft discovered that Lauren, the average person supposedly invited to participate in the quest for a sub-$1,000 laptop , is not just some random person. She is actually a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild. They then took the time to analyze every frame of the commercial in detail. They noticed a few inconsistencies in the ad, which lead them to question whether the whole event was staged or if it ever even happened. The final blow for them came when they learned about the multitude of negative reviews on this particular HP Pavilion laptop and how that particular setup delivered what could best be described as a poor Vista experience. While trying to combat Apple, Microsoft forgot that in today’s social-media-centric world it’s imperative that you’re transparent, honest and authentic. If you are going to argue the price point, which is something Microsoft could do, then you have to do it right, which means actually going out and really finding the best laptop you can for under $1,000 and then ideally recommending one with your latest operating system on it. Then, find someone who’s not in SAG to be in your commercial.
It’s really important to step back and remember that social media is a tool for your brand. More important than just being out there and doing it, is doing it in a way that is authentic to your brand and brings value to your all your constituents, whether it is just your customers, or also your partners, your donors, your employees or anyone else you want to build a relationship with.
It all starts with understanding your brand, which lies at the intersection of what you do well, what your community values and what is ownable over time in the market or your social landscape. This requires that you have some definition of your brand going in, but that you leave yourself open to other interpretations of that within the community by listening, engaging and adjusting as necessary. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean your brand is changing all the time, but it does mean that you allow for shifts in how you deliver on your brand to map to community expectations and needs. It starts from within your organization and how you use social media to build internal champions and fans.
Let’s see some examples. Best Buy is a good example of how you can use social media to create an employee community. Best Buy’s social media strategy is all about linking disbursed team members for collaboration and to promote individual contributions. They have a facebook community among their employees that brings together team members from all over the country to learn about what’s going on with the company, new ideas other stores have had, and fun events being held. They have also created a water cooler discussion forum for all employees to discuss whatever’s on their mind and get thoughts and opinions from other team members from around the country. Their strategies really put employees in the driver’s seat to be brand champions within the company and with their own social networks. Check out their video to learn more about how they do this on YouTube at the URL on this slide.
Mayo Clinic’s Facebook page is I think the best example of using brand-based social media to connect with patients and the larger community. It’s an understated page—and by that I mean that they really let the fans contribute to the page. There aren’t a lot of posts by staff—other than individuals who want to comment or tell a story. It doesn’t feel like a marketing venue, it really does feel like a place where people can connect about this truly one-of-a-kind experience which is exactly what their brand is about—their patients. Facebook gives them a venue to celebrate that aspect of their brand.
Starbucks created their own platform for a community to engage customers to participate in developing the experience they want to have with Starbucks—since the Starbucks brand is all about the coffee experience, this makes perfect sense. My Starbucks Idea allows customers to submit their own ideas for products, rewards programs, or anything else that they want to see Starbucks develop, and share them, vote on others’ ideas or discuss. These ideas get submitted to Starbucks employees to review and respond to. This example from Starbucks is not only breaking down barriers between customers and the company, but any idea picked up by Starbucks receives the attention of a cross functional team to make it happen. So it encourages collaboration across departments with the customer. This is a great example of the company extending the third place concept on to the web as well.
Zappos does a very good job of humanizing their brand by giving us a window into their corporate culture and allowing their employees to tweet with their own voices, giving Zappos a personality beyond their logo. It translates the Zappos brand promise of fun culture and unique relationships with customers to the web in a more public way. Employees from all over the company are encouraged to Twitter with a few simple rules in mind like be authentic and be reasonable. This is particularly important for a company that sells shoes online. They sell a lot of shoes. But anybody can sell shoes online. Zappos’ strategy is brilliant because it clearly sets them apart from their competitors by building a personal relationship with customers. This is also particularly brilliant because they have no physical retail location—normally thought of as the best way to develop a personal relationship. http://mashable.com/2009/04/26/zappos/
Coke uses their facebook community for market research, posing seemingly informal questions to their community from time to time to gain new brand perspectives and keep their finger on the pulse of their customers. They use their brand elements of refreshing enjoyment to influence the questions they ask. Note: The key here is to not do this too much (as it gets old, quick) and to make it interesting or relevant to your community.
This is a case where a company used their website as the hub for a new type of community—a crowdsourcing community. Crowd sourcing, by the way, is a term used to mean—community-developed ideas, products, etc. Levis: teamed up with Project Runway and hosted a contest on their website for 501 jeans where anyone could submit a design and vote. This was a great way to deliver a brand experience, as it took their brand essence of comfortable, wearable fashion and turned it into a way to engage fashion enthusiasts in making wearable fashion. They got 3,000 design submissions. The campaign got 134,000 unique visitors and almost 19,000 registered users. They had 122,000 design ratings. They also got 924 social networking/blog badges with over 30,000 views. Not a bad turn out. The results: The winning submission sold out the day it went on sale. The products featured in the campaign were Levi store exclusives, they were more fashion forward and had a price range of 58 to 70 dollars. Literally overnight they got a different demographic and a sales lift that made a measurable impact on sales.
Let’s talk a little bit about how you get started by developing your brand based social media strategy.
First, you have to become social (if you’re not already predisposed to being so). Using social media starts with acknowledging that your brand will be opening itself up to becoming a community through an ongoing dialogue and mutually beneficial relationships. Ask: how can we give customers ways to interact with our brand online in ways that meets their needs, fulfill their interests and engages them to spread the word? Ask: how can we keep the conversation going over time and deepen our relationships with people online?
Ask yourself, what are my business goals for building a community: - Is it to increase awareness? Do you want to promote new products, services or ideas? Do you want to build a community for research and development, crowdsourcing and innovation? All of the above? This step is critical, as without understanding where you want to end up, you won’t be able to measure the effectiveness of anything you are doing to get there. And, developing a social media strategy is all about weeding out all the things you could do and focusing on the tools, channels and activities that will help you achieve your objectives. Be sure to also define what success looks like—what are your specific indicators for success based on your objectives.
Once you know what you are trying to achieve and what success looks like, you will want to take stock—looking at all the possible social media tools you could use to achieve your goals and putting them through a set of filters that enable you to weed out all of those tools that will either cost too much, not reach your desired audience or not give you ways to measure results. Which ones will get you the most bang for your buck, given your business objectives? These are just some examples of popular tools out there that can help you achieve some of your larger strategic goals. There are many out there, but it is important to choose them based on the opportunities for your brand and the audiences they let you reach. As a result of the work we are doing with our clients, we have created a brand-based social media map that helps companies navigate the sea of tools to find the best ones to achieve their goals and how to use them to deliver on their brand goals.
Then, go online and listen. Look for the types of people that are there, the conversations they are having, and what’s going on. Ask: are these the right people? Are these the right topics? Can I bring value to this discussion? If so, how?
Now you’re ready to develop your strategy. A big part of this is thinking about your resources on hand—who are the right people in your company to deliver your brand through these social media channels? Once you have defined this, you will also want to define the rules for engagement—how do you present yourself and what are the boundaries? Then, define what kinds of things you will talk about or do on these channels to engage people and get them interested. Think about offline ways of doing this too, as that creates a much richer experience that gets you even closer to your community. Finally, put some reality to it—set your timeline for doing it, how much you are willing to spend and how and when you are going to measure it to determine your ROI.
Now you’re ready to engage. A good example of daily engagement is again, Zappos who has built their brand around a culture of engagement: with each other, with their customers, and with everyone who is interested in what they do and have to say. Their CEO’s Twitter page is really about him and his interests, but because he is a representative of his brand, his posts are engaging, relevant and illustrative of the culture of Zappos—which is fun, friendly, smart and innovative.
And lastly: measure and adjust. Measurement is key, as you not only need to know what is working, but what is not working, so you can adjust in real time (which is the great thing about the web). Measurement in social media is still not a complete science, however. There are several tools out there for measurement of mentions and sentiment, but most are a bit of an investment or don’t capture the entire picture. One pretty easy way to measure engagement is through your blog and there is a relatively new tool out there that integrates with Google Analytics to measure your blog site’s traffic and engagement levels called Postrank. It is a very inexpensive tool and seems to be pretty robust. The most important thing to remember in developing your social media strategy is that it is most definitely not a definitive process—there is no end. It’s a lather, rinse repeat kind of thing. You will need to be constantly adjusting and responding to new inputs from the community—which is the hallmark of being a social brand. So, resist the urge to sit back and let it ride. It is a daily commitment and requires your ongoing listening and participation.
That concludes the presentation, and we still have a few minutes for questions, so if you haven’t already, please use the question panel to send me your questions and I will answer as many as I can before my time runs out. You can also join our brand community online on Twitter or on our Facebook page or at our blog at Integratedbrand.com to download our brand-based social media map that can help you use the right social media tools for your business objectives.
Thank you for attending this webinar and I hope you got some good information out of it that you can use right away to being building your brand community.
Building your brand community with socialmedia
<ul><li>September 24, 2009 </li></ul>BUILDING YOUR BRAND COMMUNITY WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
<ul><li>WHAT WE DO </li></ul>Brand strategies and execution that bring your entire online presence—from your web site to your social media presence and online marketing—into alignment with your brand.
<ul><li>YOUR BRAND IS UNDER THREAT </li></ul><ul><li>The number and velocity of marketing messages has increased exponentially </li></ul><ul><li>Central authority figures are no longer authoritative </li></ul><ul><li>Brand relationships are based more on cultural phenomena than quality or reliability </li></ul><ul><li>Trust is not a given—it is earned, cultivated and rewarded </li></ul>
<ul><li>Rather than a monologue to the masses, it’s engagement among managers, employees and customers </li></ul><ul><li>That seeks to build sustainable relationships with all brand stakeholders and create champions that spread the word </li></ul><ul><li>THE NEW BRAND MODEL </li></ul>
<ul><li>Based on real value </li></ul><ul><li>And, connected and shared experiences </li></ul><ul><li>That build deeper relationships </li></ul><ul><li>And, promote branded self expression </li></ul><ul><li>TODAY’S BRANDS ARE COMMUNITIES </li></ul>
<ul><li>BRAND RELATIONSHIP MODEL </li></ul>BRAND HOME PERSONAL LIFE PERSONAL COMMUNITIES Mgmt. Employees Partners Friends Family Peers and Networks Brand Communities Messaging Products Experiences Associations Self-expression
<ul><li>That you become a social brand —one that creates an open culture where customers, employees, and all other stakeholders are invited to participate in shaping the brand. </li></ul><ul><li>It requires… </li></ul>
<ul><li>Social media has seeped into the broader culture, not just with tweens and not just with consumers. </li></ul>
<ul><li>IT’S PERVASIVE </li></ul><ul><li>60% of Americans use social media </li></ul><ul><li>85% of users believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media </li></ul><ul><li>56% of users feel they have a stronger connection with and are better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment </li></ul><ul><li>93% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media </li></ul>The 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study
<ul><li>THE MORE YOU ENGAGE, </li></ul><ul><li>THE STRONGER YOUR BRAND </li></ul><ul><li>Companies that were deeply and broadly engaged in social media last year recognized an 18% growth in revenue </li></ul><ul><li>Those who sat by the sidelines saw a 6% decline </li></ul>– Engagement db’s ranking of the top 100 Global Brands, July 2009
<ul><li>BREAKING DOWN BIG-BRAND BARRIERS </li></ul>http://mystarbucksidea.force.com /
<ul><li>GIVING A HUMAN VOICE TO YOUR BRAND </li></ul>http://twitter.com/Zappos
<ul><li>ASKING YOUR CUSTOMERS WHAT THEY WANT </li></ul>
<ul><li>CROWD-SOURCING NEW PRODUCTS </li></ul>
<ul><li>DEVELOPING YOUR BRAND-BASED SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY </li></ul>
<ul><li>Today’s brands are communities </li></ul><ul><li>How can you give customers a way to interact with you that fulfills their interests? </li></ul><ul><li>How can you communicate in a way that feels more like a dialogue than a monologue? </li></ul><ul><li>FIRST, BE SOCIAL </li></ul>
<ul><li>Outline the business objectives or goals for building your community </li></ul><ul><li>Define what success looks like </li></ul><ul><li>DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES </li></ul>
<ul><li>What types of people are there? How do they classify themselves? </li></ul><ul><li>What are they saying? What are they doing? </li></ul><ul><li>Who and what are they talking about? </li></ul><ul><li>What kinds of discussions are going on about the topic? </li></ul><ul><li>THEN, LISTEN </li></ul>
<ul><li>Identify the appropriate people on your team who will be participating, posting, engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Set the rules for engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Define the topics, ideas and activities you will engage in for each social media channel you have outlined </li></ul><ul><li>Think offline too and supplement with face-to-face engagement and continue the conversation online </li></ul><ul><li>Set timelines, budgets and metrics </li></ul><ul><li>DEVELOP YOUR STRATEGY </li></ul>