/// Quickly Defend and Enhance Your Brand Using Social Media (Or Become a Cautionary Tale)
I recently spoke at the Corporate Social Media Summit in San Francisco where a packed room of marketing leaders collaborated on social media for the enterprise. Now several years into social and most organizations still struggle with how to both defend and enhance your brand in a social world. Many old-world PR and corporate communications leaders will adhere to the old standards, usually to the peril of your brand. The rules have changed, but are actually simpler, more straightforward. Here are a few first steps to both defend and enhance your brand using social media, with a few examples along the way.
Defending your Brand:
To err is human . . . to really ‘eff’ up takes a corporation.” – Anon
There is a lot of focus on defending your brand. You only need look at these four examples to see why:
Major oil company, didn’t see a need for a Twitter handle, so Greenpeace created one for them and espoused all the ills of the company through their (fake) brand channel.
“There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.” Said by BP‘s Tony Hayward during the Gulf Oil Crisis
“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is available online.” Said by Kenneth Cole
“I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive” said by Chrysler’s twitter account.
Each of these gaffes were dealt with by the old, “gold” standard – fire someone, sue someone, deflect, or take it down, apologies and hope no one noticed. There is, however, one glowing example of a company that did this really, really well – FedEx.
We all saw the video of the driver tossing a flat-screen over the fence instead of ringing the bell. Two days later, FedEx‘s SVP of Operations publicly apologized in a YouTube video, and then went on to talk about reinforcing their brand promise to their employees and how they were learning from this mistake. In essence, “we have 200,000 employees, every once and awhile we let a bad apple in, we have corrected it, and now we are getting better for it.” The video was only seen by a fraction of those watching the TV-tossing video, but the move shifted the conversation from “the brand” to the individual. Furthermore, FedEx’s stock was back to pre-mishap levels within 2 days and the bloggers slowed to a crawl within 10 days of mistake.
When focusing on crisis communications, remember the 4 B’s:
Apologies will only go so far, so you have to follow the 4 B’s with some action/direction:
Take action – Don’t just think this will go away, respond.
Learn from mistakes – What are you doing to resolve this issue?
Steps to ensure – What are you doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Where to go for . . . . – Where do folks go for questions, support, refunds, etc.?
Enhancing your Brand:
I think defending is like insurance – you hope you never need it. You probably won’t – at least to the level of these examples – but you will for minor issues. However, enhancing your brand can and should be used by every company, every day. It comes down to 4 basic steps:
Listening: Sounds simple and such buzz word. But listening is really about being “actively passive.” The biggest issues companies face is to not giving this part enough time. Listening takes time and should not be “listen today, interact tomorrow.” You need to know “who is saying what and on what topics” before you are ready for step two.
Social Influence: Who are the biggest names in your space that move people to action? Who is that “magic middle” – have smaller, but cult like followings? Know these names yet? Start listening and find out. Then contact them and engage with them.
Build Communities: Invite all of those people who you have been listening to into a central space; give them great content and insight and freedom to engage with like-minded people. Don’t have a lot of money? I built a community for a company using “cloud-based dating software” for $49.99/month. You just change “man/woman” fields to “buyer/seller,” interested in “product x, product y, product z,” etc. and you are on your way. Oh, don’t forget to remove the “naughty chat” feature . . . or keep it, it’s your community.
Humanize your Brand: This does not mean adding more pictures of your support team or happy customers to your website – that is adding “human faces” to your brand. This is such a misunderstood buzz word. Find that aspect of your brand that is your weakness. It could be cost, value, support, etc. How do you use social to address it? Whole Foods knows it has a reputation for being . . . well, pricey . . . a little bit. They took pictures of what $20 will buy you at the store, and then shared it with fans. The result was these images filling Pinterest sites, blogging and social sharing that moved the needle on brand perception, all with a cost under $200. Let your customer’s know you are listening, and help them understand the real you.
If you are interested, there is an accompanying deck for my presentation. Sorry you missed the live version; I told this great joke about a deposed Russian Premier . . . well, you had to be there.