As we all know your company’s audiences have a lot more access, insights, and opinions on your brand in a 'social network' driven connected world, and its get even more scary when your customer service teams are used as cannon fodder for disgruntled customers because that's what you think 'social' is for, or worse still you have outsourced (offshore) and deployed some bot to answer the customer on social media from your FAQ's.
Its why ensuring your company has an aligned brand strategy framework that allows you to relax, unleash and weaponise the power of social media in a way that that really adds value to your customers and to prove that you really are a 'listening' company.
"People are your biggest asset" and can add huge brand equity value to your mission, if only you knew how?
One of the key reasons brands and companies have anxiety over employees talking about the company or brand is what's known as 'lack of control', in particular in the social media space, and in particular when the table has been turned in favour of the strength of the consumer voice with social media.
Lets agree and be honest with ourselves that at this point, you are not in control now, and never will be of 'Social Media' unless you adopt new skills, processes and strategies to better understand where your prospects and customers are already spending their time, and how you might influence the conversations.
In the old days the brand police worked with the compliance police, who interpreted regulation in order to be able to produce any kind of corporate marketing materials, the process took ages (still does) and it was all, well, very corporate. The rules were signed off by the board, managed by marketing for the 'colouring in' bit, with the corporate comms team (and external PR agency) being the deliverers of the corporate message(s) ahead of the AGM.
Quite a lot of it was then used to 'interrupt' people with outbound cold calls, e-mail, adverts etc, an awful lot of it was also used by 'sales' teams at exhibitions, or sponsored seminars, and as ammunition to beat your potential prospects with until they either cleared off or went into submission.
All sat well with the Board and Brand Police - then came 'Social Media'!
This traditional 'process and control' approach doesn't take into account the rise of social media where today Billions of people all over the world have multiple social media accounts, including all your employees. Some for business (company accounts), some personal, and some for personal and company business, like LinkedIn where they are 'hoping' to find the next job, or show that they have just arrived in the new one.
Today, people are looking for 'social proof' and validation from peers around which products and services they might be interested in buying.
In fact in the corporate sales space (SaaS etc) over 68% of the research is done by the prospect before any direct communication with a vendor even takes place, and with 8-10 internal stakeholders involved in that process where do you think they go to learn about what you and your competitors have to offer, certainly not your website?
Lets stay focused on the 'people' element of this blog, because that's where there is a hidden treasure trove that, if motivated, trained and unleashed can transform your company in way you have never experienced before.
I recently wrote an article on LinkedIn about the power of personal branding, what it really means, and the immense value to organisations that take time to understand it, learn about it, and take action, you can find it here 'The best Influencer of Your Brand is - YOU!'
Now I don't want to get into the whole branding thing but, for those of you that know, I have worked in this space on an international level for some years. During that time I have worked with a number of global companies who have re-branded, re-positioned, and re-engineered their business to meet the changing needs of its future commercial aspirations.
I have also driven one of the most complex digital transformation projects in my entire career, and every single part of these initiatives relied solely on the ability of the people charged with that re-branding and transformation project - not the technology - case study here
For the sake of an example let's do a top line dive into branding and its real purpose (if your a branding person this is no doubt a redundant piece);
So what is a brand strategy? Essentially, brand strategies are long-term plans to develop and establish a successful and well-known brand in order to hit particular company goals. One of the key elements of a successful brand is its 'personality', and as in real life we remember someones personality before we might even remember their name.
As such we have an inbuilt filtering mechanism that allows us to quickly determine if Brand A's personality is a better fit to me than Brand B's personality, hence why we all choose different clothes, type of car etc.
The problem in the world of social media for companies is no one actually talks with a 'corporate' voice, because its not authentic and its always all about 'you' anyway, and they can smell your advert that's dressed up as 'content' a mile away.
So just how do you benefit from employee advocacy on social media when you fear a lack of control?
To be honest (this will hurt) to a certain extent you have to learn to let go of some of that control, start to relax the brand police, and look to put trust in the people you have employed to give your company some social 'authenticity'.
No one will have a greater insight into your brand and company than them, if you allow them to strip away the 'corporate speak and jargon' and talk (via social within an agreed framework) with authenticity you will then start to unleash the most powerful brand marketing opportunity you will have ever seen.
It will make all of those outbound marketing and advertising campaigns seem insignificant (and extremely expensive) in relation to the communities that you and your team can join in and create.
Well, the good news is that a little bit of what you have always done around brand positioning and control (Brand framework) combined with the scary bit that encourages key employees, especially the leadership team to utilise their voice on social media can in fact 'be managed'.
It takes an internally aligned strategic framework (brand guidelines) around consistency to develop their own personal brand (they ALWAYS represent the company) a proven process & methodology, mentor ship, consistency, and strong leadership from the board room.
At DLA Ignite we specialise in helping companies and internal 'Change Makers' deliver on all of these opportunities, and I'm pretty sure we can help you as well.
We have a tried and tested methodology, we hold you and your colleagues hand throughout, ensuring we not only 'teach' you what to do, we also make sure its firmly embedded into your firms DNA.
We don't do retainers, we are not an agency that creates and produces copy/content or sells ads for you.
We are active 'practitioners' of what we do, we already know and can evidence the ROI of a robust and internally aligned 'Social' strategy.
Part of that evidence it that you are reading this blog, just like many others - including your competitor!
We can also benchmark you and your competition in terms of how digital you are ...
We also don't do outbound pushy, salesy marketing, so if you would like to explore more, please contact the author of this blog.
A well-executed brand strategy affects your entire business and is directly connected to what consumers feel about your company and products or services. But, it’s also important for establishing your company identity and to differentiate from competitors. And no, throwing some ideas together with a logo is not a brand strategy.