How to Build the Commodities of Identity and Trust in Social Media plus 5 more

How to Build the Commodities of Identity and Trust in Social Media

Depending who you listen to or read in the social media space, the best reason to use social media for your brand varies. It can be for listening; resolving issues; lead generation; focus groups; recruitment; and much, much more.

All good reasons. All good value. And yet….

While these are all solid enough reasons to be on social media from a brand’s point-of-view, they mean nothing unless you have an audience. Not just an audience, but also one that actually trusts and supports you, and will listen when you speak. Without that, you’ll just be another tree in the forest that no-one hears fall.

So how do you build that most valued of commodities in social media (and business in general) – identity and trust? Especially in such a crowded space to start with? Thankfully, it’s not that hard – but it does take work and stamina. Let’s dig in.

Step 1: The Message is the Key

The big mistakes that brands make when jumping into social media is they see their competitors doing it, so think they need to as well. Wrong answer! (Insert buzzer noise here). For sure – social media can (and does) offer a fantastic additional tactic to add to your existing marketing mix. Yet only if it’s right for you – so make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and not because of forced impressions.

Once you’ve gotten that out of the way, the most important part comes next – defining what your message is going to be, and how that is going to build the loyalty and brand identity that will define your success in this space.

The core points to consider here are:

  • What’s our brand’s value proposition, and how do we convey that?
  • Who will be our spokesperson/spokespeople, and in what capacity? How do we want to be perceived – thought leaders, the company that listens, educators, or something else?
  • How will we ensure the message we’re sharing is consistent and built to last?

These are some of the initial questions to ask, and answers to provide. Without these, you’ll be floundering pretty quickly and people will move on to the next brand. Don’t let that be you. Think about the above questions, and make sure you have the answers (or know who the person is with the answers).

And, for the love of God, please make sure you actually know internally what your business stands for before you go outside!

Step 2: It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It

Once you have your goals defined, and know exactly what will be said and who will be saying it, you move on to the next most important part – building your brand identity with these components.

This, probably more than anything, will be the part of the puzzle that either builds your identity and success, or sees you crash and burn on takeoff (I watched Top Gun again the other night, so forgive the gung-ho analogies!).

While it’s crucial to have the right people and message defined, it’s just as crucial (if not more so) to take it to market properly. What you say, and how you say it, is going to be the difference between you and your competitors. And if there’s one thing social media has taught all brands, it’s that people are always waiting for you to slip up.

To ensure your message is understood in the way you want it to be seen, you need to be consistent across every touchpoint:

  • If you’re setting up a blog, make the editorial guidelines clear, both for internal bloggers and guest authors, determine the message from the blog, and make that core across all posts.
  • On social networks, the people that will be the “official” voice of your company need to share communications with each other regularly, and know whose role it is to reply to a certain question or issue.
  • On social media-led promotions that carry over to the offline space, ensure the same people promoting and answering online are attached to any offline teams as well, to keep the message clear and integrated.

These are just some of the ways to ensure the messaging from your brand is consistent and clear. That’s one of the first steps to building a true identity online. On top of that, obviously you need to make sure that your brand’s look and feel ties into this identity too.

The last thing you want to do is confuse people when they visit one of your online outposts (blog, social network, Pinterest board, etc.) and find a different colour scheme or look and feel at each place (unless you’re building external resources as a separate part of your brand identity, for SEO or thought leadership reasons).

Get the message consistent; get the look consistent; the rest will start to fall into place.

Step 3: The Long and Winding Road

Of course, this is all pre-identity stuff. Or, at least, pre-social media identity (you have identified what your brand stands for internally, right?). That’s the (relatively) easy part – the hard part is making sure that message is seen and, more importantly, retained time and time again.

And that’s where many brands fail, by expecting social media to be the quick fix to all that ails them. It’s not. Social media is not a fire sale – it’s a long-term investment and tactic, strategy, campaign, call it what you wish.

If you’re expecting your brand to be immediately identifiable through your actions on social media, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead, it’s the consistency of the message and voice that will build your identity, not the speed in which you bring that to market.

Customer loyalty isn’t something that can be bought – and the brands that identify the most with their customers’ needs will be the ones that are rewarded with loyalty, referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing.

Social media can enhance the reach of these referring voices to the Nth degree – but you need to make sure you’re deserving of it to start with. Get your identity right by planning it and building it up the right way, and the world (social media or otherwise) can truly be your oyster.

The choice is yours.

image: Margarita Perez Garcia

How to Build the Commodities of Identity and Trust in Social Media originally appeared on Danny Brown - the human side of media and the social side of marketing - all rights reserved.

Are We In Danger of Losing the Right to an Opinion?

Back in 2009, I published a post about online watch sales company Melrose Jeweler’s. The post dissected a press release Melrose had put out, suggesting how the actor Owen Wilson had been saved from suicide by seeing his wonderful Rolex watch, and realizing life was worth living.

Ridiculous, right? Not to Melrose, who positioned themselves as resellers of authentic Rolex watches, and used the news release to show just how awesome Rolex is, and why people should buy from their online store.

(Note: Rolex was never affiliated with Melrose, as has since been publicized by a recent lawsuit and the closure of Melrose.)

My original post was an opinion piece, and pretty scathing, questioning the ethics of Melrose and their publicity team. Shortly after the post went live, I received a Cease and Desist letter from Melrose’s lawyer, requesting I take the post down as it was harming his client.

I refused, and instead published a rebuttal post that took apart each of the lawyer’s “statements”, and advised that the post would remain online, as is, as an opinion piece backed by facts. I never heard from either Melrose or the lawyer again.

For me, that experience with Melrose showed the growing “allure” of blogging and social media – the ability for businesses to be challenged on questionable practices, and be held to a higher standard.

It also showed the growing gap between bloggers and journalists, and why content consumers turned to blogs as opposed to print journalism. While journalism was often red-taped by editorial decisions and boardroom approvals (based on what political party had the bigger sway with the owner of the paper), blogs could offer stronger opinion pieces that could go straight for the jugular, if you like.

A recent decision by French courts, however, could see the future of opinion pieces, and holding businesses to better standards, become redundant. Or worse.

Opinion Is Great – As Long As It’s Positive

French fashion and literature blogger Caroline Doudet wrote a scathing review of her experience with the Il Giardino restaurant in the south west of France. Much like any blogger worth their salt, Doudet optimized the post title and content to rank in Google’s search algorithm.

Indeed, her post – entitled “The Place to Avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino” – ranked so well it came up fourth in search results when Google users searched for that particular restaurant. It was this placement – and the accompanying review published by Doudet – that upset the owner of the restaurant, who promptly sued and took Doudet to court.

In the ruling over the case, the judge ordered Doudet to amend the title of the post, so that it was less inflammatory, as well as pay the restaurant owner $2,000 in damages. Following this ruling, Doudet actually deleted the post completely, but warns of the precedent this decision sets.

This decision creates a new crime of being too highly ranked on a search engine, or having too great an influence. What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people. Source.

That last sentence is particularly telling, both for bloggers and brands alike.

The Neutrality of the Web and the Betterment of Brands

The last few years has seen the rise of bloggers as a prominent feature in any brand’s marketing strategy. This can range from promotional or sponsored posts to working with influential bloggers in a certain field to work through crisis or emergencies.

The trust that bloggers have built with their audiences is hugely attractive to brands looking to reach those audiences – it’s essentially one of the warmest “leads” you (the brand) will have with your demographic. Get the relationship with the blogger right, get the approach to the audience right.

Much of this trust in the blogger stems from the fact the audience knows the blogger has their best interests at heart, and won’t shill for the sake of a few bucks. Trust, after all, is the currency of any successful blogger.

If we get to the stage where that neutrality and power of opinion is removed because a restaurant owner didn’t like a review, or a brand didn’t like the fact a blogger only gave their product a mediocre review, then we’re taking a major step into losing any kind of protective layer between brands and questionable practices.

While the case of Doudet isn’t expected to set a legal precedent currently (it’s classed as an emergency order that’s causing harm to another party), that’s not to say it won’t be used as a weapon in the battle between brands controlling what’s said about them, and the content creators that are determined to hold these brands to a better modus operandi.

The signs are already there. Review site Yelp is currently seeing test cases of reviewers being sued for their postings, while a bishop recently sued a blogger for an article where the victim claimed defamation, while the defendant claimed it was satire.

The latter example may be a more clear-cut one: after all, if you break the law, expect the consequences. However, the examples of brands suing against reviews and opinions that don’t offer a rainbows and unicorns view of their service or product is a troubling one.

If we lose the right to opine based on fact and experience, and instead are forced to remain silent or face the consequences, we lose more than just a few page views and comments – we lose the very fabric of what makes the web what it is today.

The only winners when that happens are the brands that have something to hide – the good brands already use negative opinion to improve their service and product.

Surely that’s something we all want, brands and consumers alike?

image: Rebecca Barray

Are We In Danger of Losing the Right to an Opinion? originally appeared on Danny Brown - the human side of media and the social side of marketing - all rights reserved.

The Ballad of Safe, Potential and Already There

There were three businessmen walking down a long and winding road. No-one knew how all three came to be on the road at the same time, but there they were. Their names were Safe, Potential and Already There.

Safe (as his name suggests) was happy to be wherever there was room for him. He followed the coat tails of Potential and Already There and often stopped to admire the view, then run to catch up with his two friends later, out of breath and giddy just for being around others.

Potential was a strange one. He always seemed intense, and was forever taking notes of his surroundings, and testing new directions out to see if there were other areas the road might lead. Safe wasn’t too keen on Potential – he just seemed too erratic.

Already There didn’t care for either of his traveling colleagues – he accepted that sometimes you have to put up with company, but that was a bearable annoyance when you knew where you were and now you were just enjoying the surroundings.

A Fellow Traveler

As they walked along the road, they came across another traveler, whose name turned out to be Innovation. He looked tired and worn out, and as the three travelers approached Innovation, Already There took command (being the most senior). “Hello, there – you look troubled. What ails you?”

Innovation looked at the three and replied, “I’m tired. For many years, I’ve traveled various roads, and met some amazing people. But now I feel my traveling is coming to an end, and it’s time for me to retire. The world is a different place from when I was in it a lot.”

The three travelers looked at Innovation, and each took a turn to answer. Safe was first. “It’s probably a good idea. I’m sure you’ve had some great adventures along the way, but from the looks of you, you wouldn’t last another day without dropping from exhaustion. Take your rest and be happy for what you’ve achieved.”

Already There spoke next. “I don’t know why you’re upset. The world is a wonderful place when you sit back and enjoy it. I found my happy place a long time ago, and look how content I am. Come, let me show you my home and you can relax there and watch the world go by.”

Old is New

Potential was the last to speak. He looked at both Safe and Already There, then back to Innovation, and smiled. “These two men speak wise words. The world is a wonderful place to sit back and enjoy. But how long would that last?

“Without new ideas, we’d soon become bored. Without challenges, we’d soon become lazy. Without breaking molds, everything would look the same. We’d be traveling on roads with people we are either leaving behind or about to overtake, as opposed to walking together on paths to ideas.

“I’m not sure where I’m headed; I know it won’t be a Safe journey and I sure as heck am nowhere near Already There when it comes to where I want to be. But then that’s probably why I’m called Potential,” he finished with a wink.

Innovation looked at all three, and smiled a smile that lit up his face in a way that at least two of the three travelers wouldn’t have thought possible when they first saw him. “Potential,” he said, “you remind me of me when I was younger. You’re right – Innovation isn’t Safe. Innovation isn’t accepting what’s Already There. Innovation is about taking the Safe and Already There and seeking its Potential for improvement. Maybe the world isn’t ready to see the end of Innovation just yet.”

And with that, he joined Potential and they continued walking and laughing, leaving Safe and Already There behind, shaking their heads and thinking there sure are some strange people in the world today.

Then again, isn’t everything strange until its Potential has been unlocked..?

This is a chapter from my Parables of Business ebook, helping businesses understand how old wisdom can help shape new mindsets. You can learn more about the book, and grab your own copy, here for just $0.99.

image: Pedro Moura Pinheiro

The Ballad of Safe, Potential and Already There originally appeared on Danny Brown - the human side of media and the social side of marketing - all rights reserved.

The Sunday Share: How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business

As a business resource, Slideshare stands pretty much head and shoulders above most other content platforms.

From presentations to educational content and more, you can find information and curated media on pretty much any topic you have an interest in.

As a research solution, Slideshare offers analysis from some of the smartest minds on the web across all verticals. These include standard presentations, videos, multimedia and more.

Which brings us to this week’s Sunday Share.

Every week or so, I’ll be sharing a presentation that catches my eye and where I feel you might be interested in the information inside. These will range from business to content to social media to marketing and more.

This week, an excellent and insightful presentation from Robert Clarke, partner at Op Ed Marketing, a digital agency that helps businesses attract, convert and keep customers.

Social media continues to evolve in the ways businesses can use it to meet their goals. In this presentation, Robert delves into just how businesses can use social media for their own needs.


The Sunday Share: How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business originally appeared on Danny Brown - the human side of media and the social side of marketing - all rights reserved.

The Top 14 Billion People You Should Definitely Do Something With List

Lists are all the rage.

The Top 100 This. The Best 50 That. The 200 Top Thingymajig Influencers.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I get it. Lists can be useful.

They can help newcomers to an industry identify some folks they might want to check out and follow, to gain insight and knowledge from.

Lists can also be genuine labours of love from people, wishing to recognize their peers and those who have inspired their growth.

These are the good lists.

Then you have the ones that are nothing but ego strokes, SEO linkbait and “Will you invite me to your soopah awesome inner circle if I keep listing you?” lists.

The trouble with these lists is that they’re so generic, so banal, that any recognition they were meant to give is lost in the choruses of “Seriously?” questions and snickers at the inclusion of a tech support guy on the “most amazing business people” list.

You want amazing business people? Look at those that have failed and got back up again and succeeded, because that takes serious business balls.

You want lists of the most amazing influencers? Look at people that have truly affected global and cultural mindset, like Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Rosa Parks, Terry Fox.

A list that recognizes the ability of a blithering idiot spending all day being awesome on Twitter to define them as influential should be ignored immediately. Or pinned to the wall as an example of all that’s wrong in the social media echo chamber.

And we wonder why business execs still look at this space with trepidation and lack of enthusiasm.

So by all means, continue to create these kinds of lists, but here’s how to ensure you can avoid yours being taken less seriously than others.

Make it a 14 Billion People You Should… list. With about 7 billion people actually on the planet, that leaves room for two recommendations per person.

And with a 50/50 option like that, the chances are one of the lists will be useful…

image: Great Beyond

The Top 14 Billion People You Should Definitely Do Something With List originally appeared on Danny Brown - the human side of media and the social side of marketing - all rights reserved.

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