Online Social Brands Gone Bad. We've all seen them. The question is… are you one of them?
Did you know it takes at minimum 6-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand? Every brand impression counts. What brand impressions are you leaving with your audience?
How many websites, blogs, landing pages, videos, Facebook pages, Twitter backgrounds, avatars have you seen that make you want to cringe? From the colors that look like curtains off the “I Love Lucy” show to design that would have been gonged on “The Gong Show” within 5 seconds. We all know a bad website when we see it. We don't usually think twice about it. We just simply go away without the brand ever knowing they made such a bad impression.
Where do brands go wrong? Are you one of them? Do you know you are one of them but don't know what to do about it?
We work with businesses large and small and I can tell you this happens to businesses of all sizes. It's not just limited to the mom and pop shop or the broke startup. The same thing is happening to well funded organizations with marketing leaders that should know better.
Help me help you!
There is an old saying “help me, help you.” This article is written with such thinking. It will only help you if you want to be helped. If you already have a rockin' website or blog then good for you. However, if you don't or think there might be a small chance you don't, I encourage you to read on. The truth might hurt. I might even say a few things that tick you off. However, that's how we roll. We tell it like it is and will never tell you something you want to hear just because you want to hear it. Our only goal is to help you succeed and we'll do whatever it takes to get you there.
20 Tips To Rock Your Online Social Brand Starting Now!
1. Know your business. Who are you? What are you? Why does your brand exist? What value do you offer your customers, community, audience, partners? What are your objectives, goals and measurements to track results? How ready are you to integrate social media into the DNA of your business. Know how deep you are ready to go with a plan and tactics to support such.
2. Know your customer. Who are your current customers? Who are your dream customers? Partners? Community? Industry influencers? You must get in the head of your audiences so that you can best provide them relevant value and inspire them to connect with you in a meaningful way.
3. Know the conversations. What are the current conversations about you? Is the sentiment positive or negative? How frequent are the conversations? Where are they happening? Who is having them? Ignoring the negative or positive conversations will not make them go away. Even if negative, be proactive in engaging and managing. Don't expect the social platforms to clean up for you. Roll up your sleeves and dig into the details.
4. Pick 3. When starting out with new clients who need a brand overhaul but want to keep it simple we use our “Pick 3” methodology.
Pick your 3 top audiences.
Pick their top 3 pain points in life or business.
Identify 3 ways you can help each of them
Map your services to each of the 3 audiences and their needs
Map your brand, service and value proposition messages to each of the 3 audiences and needs.
5. Pick the top 3-5 words you want people to feel when they come in contact with your brand? Do you want them to feel empowered? Inspired? Peaceful? Trust? Energetic? Hungry? Fulfilled? These 3 words can be the driving force behind your brand development. We leverage such process and it literally shaves weeks off of development and design projects as it helps get the designer, developer and you on the same page from the start, not after the site is coded!
6. Is your brand still relevant? Or could it use a refresh? Ask yourself these questions:
Does it still represent you, your organization and the services you offer?
Does it speak in a language your audience can understand.
Do the words use sound like mumbo jumbo or have meaning to your audience?
Do people understand what you do and why they should care?
Do you wish people would know what you are really about? How you can help them?
Does your brand inspire your audiences to connect and engage with you?
Is your head exploding with ideas but you just can't seem to get them executed?
7. Get feedback from outside the C-Suite or corner office. Don't just let the corporate executives who have never been on Twitter and only on Facebook on the weekends decide how your digital brand should be executed. Instead, develop and implement tactics that engage employees, customers, and partners. You'll be amazed how much they'll love being part of such discussion. You'll not only obtain great feedback and new ideas but also gain some positive brand evangelists along the way if done right!
8. Brand is more than a logo or tagline. Developing an online brand requires more than simply grabbing your logo and using it as an avatar on every social platform. Your brand is everything about you. From the logo, colors, tagline, Twitter background, Facebook Timeline Cover, blog header, website integration with the blog to the way your receptionist answers the phone. Your brand is your employees that are tweeting via their personal account or hanging out on Facebook. You and your employees are your brand, period.
9. The digital execution of your online brand is not a replica of your offline brand. Acknowledge that you can not take your offline brand, colors and images you created for the 1999 Annual Shareholder Report and integrate them right into Facebook and Twitter via 140 character segments.
10. Focus on consistency. Because it takes at minimum 6-7 brand impressions for someone to remember your brand, every impression counts. You don't want your brand to look and feel one way on one platform but completely different on another. Your goal should be to provide a consistent, inspiring and engaging brand experience at every touch both online and offline.
11. Be human. You are not your logo. Have real conversations that are not scripted. Come out from behind the logo. Show some of the real people within your organization. Let people get to know the human side of your business, not just the digital execution.
12. Be available. Half of online social brand success is simply being available. Be available to respond, answer questions. Don't setup your social network profiles and then leave them sitting lonely for a year. Doing such hurts your business more than helps.
13. Get real on your current team's skills. Do you have the right skillset internally to execute an online brand that will rock your social ecosystem? If your web developer and designer are not wanting to improve skills and are stuck in their ways it is either time for some serious training and expectation setting or it might be time to make the hard decisions and let them go. Continuing to let your brand fail, knowing it is not the best representation of what it is and can be is only a disaster for failure. Hire a third party to do an analysis and bring a neutral opinion to the team. Outsource where needed.
14. Acknowledge the social ecosystems are not waiting for you to join. The social networks are already crowded, loud, filled with spammers. You must rise above the noise and find a way to inspire and connect with your audiences and markets better than the rest of them. Focus on providing content that helps them reach their goals and resonates with where they are in life and business.
15. Develop a social media policy. Many brands ignore this very important step. They think bad things will never happen to them. I have heard business leaders say “we hire only the best staff, we trust our tweeters.” All it takes is one bad scenario to make you wish you would have taken the time to develop at minimum a social media policy that integrates at the basic level with Human Resources and employee communications.
What can employees communicate about? When should they not communicate about a specific topic, product or event?
What tone of language should they use if using or engaging with one of your brand social profiles or platforms?
What is your policy for Twitter accounts? If you are helping them build a following on Twitter, who owns it? What happens when the employee leaves?
What social networks are prohibited at work or outside of work? I am not a big believer in limiting use of social networks but I know there are some industries who because of legal reasons have had to. An example would be school districts and teachers friending students on Facebook.
If your company requires uniforms, what is acceptable use of photos being posted to social networks with uniforms on and logos being blasted to the world? Do you want them tweeting, pinning to Pinterest or posting to Facebook photos of them slap happy drunk Friday night in the company uniform?
What is the escalation procedure should something go bad? Who, when and how should it be escalated?
What are the consequences if an employee behaves in a manner that is in conflict with the policy?
What is your policy for customer and community support via social media? What and how will you escalate and share information received via the social networks to the internal teams needing the information in a timely manner?
16. Share your social media policy wide and deep. Share internally with all employees, contractors and vendors. Share an external ready version with clients, partners, and stakeholders. Let them know how and why you have made such decisions and why it is good for both them and you. They will respect the fact you took time to develop such a communications structure with the best interest of your brand and community at heart.
17. What process, tools, and measurement systems will you use to proactively monitor and manage your brand reputation? Proactively managing your brand is as important if not more important than your logo! Don't ignore this very important step.
18. Take your community along for the ride as you learn, grow and succeed in brand development. If you are launching a new business, refreshing your brand or even doing a complete overhaul, engage your community. Involve them in the process from day one. You'll be amazed the support you will receive if you humble yourself. Let them know where you are struggling. Ask for their help on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Conduct surveys, polls, focus groups leveraging the social networks and tools. If you engage them then they will be part of what build you.
19. Earn the right to talk about yourself. When you focus on your audience, engage them in the development and launch of your online brand as mentioned above, you will over time earn the right to share your wins. Because your community was engaged and helped build you, they will also celebrate with you when you win. Remember, it's better to earn their Facebook like, retweet, or share. It's what happens after the Facebook like that matters most!
20. Don't over complicate it. We like to say that social media really can fit in a nutshell. We often times over complicate what doesn't need to be so complicated. Yes, integrating social media into the DNA of your business is not easy. It's not going to happen over night. However, if you wait until everything is perfect you are never going to start. The only thing that is guaranteed with social media is change. Set your priorities, know your market, know how you can help them and execute!
Watch our “We Believe… the Heartbeat of Social Media” video we just developed as part of the launch of our new agency, Marketing Nutz. You can see as an example for how we are engaging our community in the entire process for brand development.
What do you think? Do you know brands that have doen themselves more harm than good with social media? Do you know brands who are rockin' it? Where does your business stand in regard to your social brand readiness? Could it use a refresh or a complete overhaul? Or is it rockin' because you just finished such a process? How can you help others based on your experience? Feel free to share tips below in the comment section. We can all learn and grow from one another.