Social Media … Business on Purpose or on Accident?
So, you are thinking of jumping on the social media bandwagon or have already started; how is that going? Are you seeing the successes that you hoped for? Are you producing enough sales to fund the efforts you are putting in? If not, you may want to consider a few things. Brand communication versus marketing A great place to start thinking about social media is whether you have a solid brand or not, and most importantly, what your brand is communicating. With this thought process in mind, let’s first address what a brand is. Many people will say a logo or your corporate image. I would say this answer is close, but no cigar. A brand is your company promise (or meta-communication) to the customer on their experience in working with your company. It is also a representation of what you will find within the walls of the company—or it should. Many times when I am working with a client toward their marketing goals, I will visit what message their brand is portraying out in the world and interview individuals within a company to see if this message is in alignment before devising a marketing strategy. I will also research what the world is saying about a particular company in my discovery period. Many times, I will find a haphazard message because the brand communication piece was omitted at the creation phase. What most people do not understand in establishing a brand is that it is more than a nice logo and some colors that are pleasing to the eye. Instead, a brand should be created with the customer in mind first, how your company fits within the target audience second and how you feel about it third. Think about the type of person you wish to include in your portfolio of clients. Who are they? What types of products do they buy? What types of activities do they enjoy? Where do they eat? Now think of the other companies that are winning at providing products and services to these people. Ask yourself, what do their brands have in common? This is the sweet spot of success! If it helps you, think about all of those things about yourself. The next time you are out running errands, think about whom else is in the places you frequent, and if there is a common thread between you. The answer is always yes! Once you have established what your brand communication is or made adjustments accordingly, you can take what you learned and apply it towards your marketing strategy. This strategy should support your brand communication and speak to your audience in symphony. This is especially true on the social networks where you can’t easily undo damage that has been done. Marketing: The three types of communication with your audience In many ways, the old days of marketing were much simpler. You could come up with a profound message, a great title, some compelling imagery and that could be enough. Not these days. Why is that? Simple, the old ways of magazine ads, television spots, flyers and all one-way communication marketing are completely over. Your ads and campaigns can no longer speak to your audience and not have your audience speak back to you on your Web site, a blog or to their 500 friends on social media. If you have not represented yourself well or provided quality goods or services, you and everyone else will know about it. Because of this, adopting two-way communication with your audience and writing your marketing strategy to reflect these results is imperative to any good campaign. Also, keep your strategy open to changes and visit what works and what doesn’t often. A great and not so great example is a campaign that the GAP hosted recently in obtaining feedback from the world on how they should redesign their logo. The greatest part about this campaign is that it allowed everyone to provide examples back to the corporation on what their company means to them. The unfortunate part is that the chosen logo won the worst logo design award of the year. Was all lost because of this? No, sometimes bad press can turn into good press. This was actually a brilliant strategy on several levels. They heard from their customers what value they place on their products, they allowed their customers (or potential customers) to have ownership of the brand, and they learned invaluable lessons about their target audience they can incorporate later. Lastly, because they won the worst logo of the year award, the last and best type of communication occurred—three-way communication! The logo was so terrible that the design-minded community was buzzing amongst themselves about the company and that horrible logo. If you don’t believe me, Google “GAP logo redesign” and see what you find. Long and short, what seems bad was probably a cleverly drafted marketing ploy to get more attention because their logo was no longer in the minds of the community. My doctor went to the nightclub So many times I have heard stories of individuals—representing themselves or that of a business—post profoundly personal information on social networks. The trend is to be transparent in business, but does that mean that you want your clients passing judgment on your brand performance by coupling your personal and professional persona? My vote is absolutely not unless it supports “who” your business is. If you are a photographer and you are posting a pictorial journal of places you have been, that would be relevant. However, if you are a mortgage or real estate professional, this type of social media behavior will not be becoming of your brand unless, you are posting pictorial success stories of customers you helped or houses sold. These days we all want to know who we are working with and a certain amount of personalization is in order, but pay special attention in making sure that it matches the communication of your brand and that of your marketing strategy. Becoming part of the circus—tightrope walker or lion tamer? Lion tamer of course! The difference between the two is whether you incorporated the above strategies and whether you have set aside time in your day toward your social media goals. One of the first questions I always ask when called upon to consult a client in creating a new campaign or in creating a Web site with social media capabilities is “how much time do you have to devote to this campaign/Web site?” The answer I hear more often than not is “I don’t have any” or “hmmm, probably around 10 min. per week.” In my mind, I always hear, “I don’t have the time to make money”. If you are considering social media as your communication method with the world, you must devote time to it every day! Remember this: A busy page with campaigns geared toward your brand is money in the bank. Value! This word is where it all comes down. What value can you provide that sets you apart? Also, what value do your clients place on you? Lastly, by using social media, what value will you offer to your potential customers in “Liking” your Facebook page or in interacting with your social media enabled Web site? If the answer is not easily obtained, please spend some time with your brand and don’t be afraid to ask those tough questions with your clients. This is a good reason to stay in touch and allow your clients and “friends” to tell you what they value in you. Corinne Jordan is a technical and marketing consultant with more than 14 years of demonstrated success delivering solution-based strategies and training to companies ranging from start-up technology companies to the Fortune 500. Corinne also is co-founder of Brain Gravy Enterprises whose current portfolio boasts more than 12 cutting-edge technologies. She may be reached by phone at (206) 601-2309 or e-mail [email protected]