Fifteen or more years ago, IBM had a series of TV commercials in which a businessman reading a newspaper says to another, ‘It says here, the Internet changes everything.’
The other man says, ‘How?’ and the first man replies, ‘It doesn’t say.’ Then came video clips showing some of the ways the Internet was changing businesses.
The second man would not need to ask, ‘How?’ today. The way in which the Internet has changed the business world is clear for all to see and the changes are even greater than those two businessmen could have foreseen. 2006 brought Facebook and Twitter and, although social networking had existed before then, they transformed the way people and businesses interact.
Social networking has a central role in the development and marketing of brands and if you are serious about developing a memorable brand in 2016, social networking is where you need to start.
In 1978, British pop group The Who recorded a song called Who Are You? with the refrain: “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?”
Anyone seeking to create a brand or improve it or make it more memorable must begin by asking a version of that question.
Not, who are you?
But, who do you want to be?
How do you want to be seen?
That’s not a decision to be taken lightly, because once you start building or improving your brand, you need to be consistent about it – so start by defining how you want to be seen very carefully.
Of course, you want to be seen as a quality business operation, but everyone should want that. It simply isn’t enough anymore. Quality is ubiquitous now in a way that it wasn’t in the early days of brand management.
In the 1960s, cars rusted out in three years or less and it didn’t really matter because the engine and transmission were probably shot by that time anyway. There were some truly dreadful instant coffees on the market. As for wines, you’d probably have done better as a teetotaler.
But none of those things are true today. Consumers take quality for granted. What the brand-builder needs to do is not to establish that their product as the best (though, if it is, that’s a bonus) but instead that it is the go-to brand – the one hip people or market-aware people (or however you see your market) will choose to buy.
You do that mainly on social media. But in order to do so successfully, here are some rules you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Be consistent. Work out how you’re going to present yourself, your product, your service or your company – and stay with it. Let people become aware of you as a known entity to be relied on.
- Don’t talk down to people. Use the language your customers use. Avoid technical jargon. Make it seem like you are just like them – someone they’d be happy to share a table with. After all, people buy from people they like.
- Plan your social media marketing program at least six months ahead. Make sure that you tweet and Facebook often enough to hold people’s interest and that the links and pictures you provide will take them somewhere they are pleased to be. And, having established your plan – make sure you actually stick to it.
- Everyone gets things wrong from time to time and that includes you. When it happens, bite the bullet and admit you were wrong. Think about the way you are responding. A few months ago, a telco made a hash of a customer’s account. The customer telephoned them and – and he was right to do this – the customer service rep admitted what they had done. The customer swore. Okay, he shouldn’t have done that but he was annoyed and now the customer service rep had the classic opportunity to “let the air out of the balloon” and rescue the situation. Instead, he said, ‘We have a policy that says we won’t tolerate abuse of our staff and you have just abused me.’ Whether he was in any position to say that given the way the customer had been treated is neither here nor there – the customer was irretrievably lost to that company and made matters worse by tweeting about the experience.
- Stay on brand. It’s very easy in the heat of the moment when responding to a tweet or a Facebook post to slip into another persona – you might think of it as “the real you.” Don’t fall prey to that temptation. Once you’ve answered the question, “Who do you want to be?” be that person/company/image – that brand, in fact – and be it always.
And, finally, remember that while social media marketing is important, that isn’t all there is. Think about how you present your business elsewhere. Look at:
- Your shopfront, your warehouse, your office
- Your packaging
- Your packing notes, invoices and other documentation
Our business is helping companies to build, improve and maintain their brand. If what we’ve said sounds scary (and – believe us – we’ve only skimmed the surface), give us a call and let’s talk about how we can simplify it for you. Together we can make 2016 the best year you ever had.