When a Brand Goes Online
Please be advised, I (Chris Conant) wrote this like a blog post, and I’ll share this page with the world as if it were the only post on online branding, social media and social business.
Brand development online must be initiated first by constructing the digital vehicles and assets necessary to set the stage: the web site, messaging, user experience, social profiles, directories, search keyword terms, social graphics, videos, employee training…there is a significant amount of one-time effort involved before a company can begin to move the online brand forward.
The second phase is to run the online brand strategy through a new lens: relationship dynamics in social media. Rather than rewrite, we’re thanking and crediting @awsamuel for this truthful insight:
“Unhappy customers, unhappy contractors, unhappy employees: none of them need to suffer in silence. Conversely, the delighted first-person reports of great service or work experience carry an authenticity that often outshines a company’s own official brand.
Social media turns branding into a true (if often accidental) collaboration between company and customer, in the way it enables constant and often bottom-up collaboration within organizations, and in the way it accelerates the pace of conversation and organizational change. Social media tends to flatten hierarchies, disempower gatekeepers, and give a voice to anyone who cares to speak about a …brand.
No wonder companies go wrong when they treat a game-changing redistribution of power as if it were merely a new way to push an ad slogan. [Using a traditional branding paradigm, a] collision comes when a marketing gimmick collides with far-reaching challenges to the company’s internal operations; or when the Twitter channel is mistakenly perceived as purely external instead of (inevitably) internal as well.
This collision can just as easily set customer relations against legal, or communications against finance, or p.r. against strategic planning. …In every case, the chasm (and crises) emerge from the combination of a social media team’s desire to “own” this new channel (whether due to plain old-fashioned turf-guarding, or the perceived online incompetence of their colleagues) and the rest of the company’s hesitation about doing something that is seen as marketing.”
The online brand therefore becomes a transformation of company and possibly the business you’re in. Prepare for a wild ride.
If one defines the online brand as the equation of your company’s personality + reputation + user experience, then it is the emphasis on the latter, and the need to support that experience by valuing social relationships that matters most of all.
Why? Because people do business with people that they know, like, trust and connect with. This is branding in its purist form.