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Archive for the ‘strategy’ Category

The importance of one brand image and identity is important not only for your company in distinguishing yourself from your competition but also to hold onto your consumers – to not confuse them and to be perceived as a strong, united entity. Consistency in your brand builds trust, whether we are talking about traditional media or new.

Take for example Coca-Cola… they have had the same logo since 1885, that’s 125 years. Everyone knows Coca-Cola and can recognize their logo by the script font, the color, its use, etc. Kameron Hurley discussed a logo survey where segments of the Coca-Cola logo were taken and only the color was changed and most people could not identify it. When they pulled a segment from the actual logo, it was easily identifiable. This shows that the simplest f modifications to your brand can affect the way your audience perceives you.

Pepsi, Coke’s main competition, has changed or modified their logo about 11 times in 125 years while Coke has maintained brand consistency. This may account for the way that Coke has taken over the market and Pepsi has continually struggled to keep up. You don’t want to dilute your brand or confuse your consumers by not maintaining a steady brand identity.  Consumers build a relationship with your brand and your image is a huge part of that relationship.

Your brand image or identity stretches far beyond just traditional media or your logo; today, websites are a vital part of brand image. When people want to search for information about your company, more often than not they will type in “yourorganization.com” or do a Google search that will ultimately bring you back to your site as well. You want to reflect the same message, the same image, and your logo in the website as you would in TV advertisements, magazines, customer service or your product in general.

Also, as I’ve discussed in my previous post, Social Media Strategies, you also want to coordinate your internal teams such as IT, marketing, and corporate communication teams in order to better assist in your company’s strategies to reach your overarching goal. As with everything else, your audience will only see you as one entity and will get confused by different messages coming from different silos within your organization.   

H&R Block is a great example of how an organization should coordinate their brand silos around one specific goal, therefore one message, on entity, on brand identity. Their viral marketing campaign is targeted at people who do taxes themselves- they want to help that specific audience. They utilize an integrated social media approach, working with the entire company, to produce digital tax solutions in order to establish their singular brand image. In the video below Amy Worley from H&R Block discusses their leap into their social media strategy and the importance of one brand image.

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You could have a very successful business, but being unaware of what not to do could end up tarnishing your reputation or destroying your company all together.

Along with Burger King, there were other instances of failure by companies attempting to use social media innovatively. Skittles for example changed their website homepage to their Twitter feed. It was a constant update of other people opinions but it was passive and not engaging – most importantly, they forgot about their audience and the need to reach out to them to establish the relationship, not the other way around.

This already breaks most of the guidelines I’ve shared before…. They led with a tool. There was no push to create a sense of community with added value in their social media tactics,  or to show interest not only in what your audience says but respond to them – generate a lasting connection deeper than brand recognition. They didn’t show you are listening, or build trust. Another element Skittle’s tactic is missing is transparency; it’s not a look into the company as a whole or into the life of the CEO – there’s no face, no value to the Twitter feed, when they aren’t interacting as well.

What you need to avoid when using social media to build relationships with stakeholders… Even if you aren’t going to implement a social media strategy, you want to listen to what your audience is saying; they are going to talk about you no matter what, avoiding it would only be a missed opportunity. Secondly, if you are going to respond to your audiences’ comments and interact, don’t be fake- you need to be a real person, with real intentions of establishing a relationship. However, you don’t want to be too “real” as to overstep the boundaries of the already established guidelines of these online communities – be an informed user. You also want to avoid thinking of this relationship as a short-term goal or a means to a sale. This means that you should not be thinking in terms of selling your product, but instead, understanding your audience so they make the decision to invest, buy, or follow your brand. Also, your company needs to approach social media together as one; avoid different teams using different media and sending different messages. Lastly, do not forget that you are trying to accomplish a goal with your social media presence; therefore you must have a way to measure your progress.

But it is most important to remember- you’re biggest mistake is fearing the use of social media. Yes, it does take time, experience, and extra responsibility and yes, it does put the power in the hands of your audience.  The risks do not outweigh the benefits. The value of transparency and more intimate relationships is greater than be afraid to allow your employees too much access to the internet during work hours. The negative criticisms are important feedback to work with in terms of bettering your company. A law suit is little to be afraid of if everyone has the right training on social media etiquette and as long as your guidelines for social media interaction reflect those already in place in your organization, the power to have a voice won’t be abused.

Skittles has since changed their website, full of YouTube videos, links to their Facebook and Twitter, eye-catching pictures and invitation to interact. This is a more successful way to engage your customers – plus, it’s an experience where you can almost “Taste the Rainbow!”

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As mentioned before, social media success doesn’t happen overnight- it’s a long-term plan, a social media strategy. Lois Kelly and BL Ochman lay out some tips for successful strategies using social media. Developing a strategy means that you have a goal in mind, a goal with measurable objectives which will provide the foundation to your social media presence. Without goals and objectives your organization could use different media incoherently, not accomplish much at all, and have nothing in the end to measure to see if the use of social media was beneficial or not. As part of your strategy, you must develop a coherent plan of action, meaning that all your agencies (IT, digital, marketing, sales…) must work together and not compete with each other. Working together will best drive traffic to your websites, and collaborating internal involvement is key to integrate your social media strategy into to overarching goal of your organization.

A key piece to putting together a social media plan is getting the “OK” from the top executives because down the line you will meet less opposition, which will expedite the changes to your company. You also want to involve the legal teams, who, along with execs, are sometimes hard to convince utilizing social media is the best strategy. Legal teams can put together guidelines for the best use of networking sites to ensure the protection of the organization. The next step then, is to educate your employees of how to properly use social media to their advantage.

A great example of a well-implemented social media strategy is through Best Buy Co., Inc. Gina Debogovich, manager and communities/social media strategist for Best Buy, created a presentation outlining Best Buy’s social media engagement. The overall goal is to show that they are concerned and connected retailers in online community relationships, through objectives such as educating people about the technologies they supply, decreasing sale-related stress, and drive product discussions in their online blogs, forums, and other available networks. Barry Judge is the CMO for Best Buy and in the video (below) expands on the intentions of their social media plan. They developed a campaign called “Dream Support,” which creates an experience in and out of stores to know the reasons why consumers buy the products they want, to see technologies “come to life,” and to show customers how to use their products to make their dreams come true. Judge expresses the power of transparency in building trust – the more of both good and bad that are shown the better.

Judge himself has a blog where he provides unfinished ads, asks for feedback, and provides rooms for opinions and comments, but a large amount of Best Buy employees are also blogging, tweeting, and on Facebook and are encouraged to do so. Internally, they use forums, wikis, and Voice Box. All of this involvement in social media has driven over 1 billion visitors to their websites every year.

Best Buy definitely knows the importance of digital communication to ensure a successful social media presence. They extend their buyer/seller relationship to be more meaningful through these different technologies and participation in social media. For Best Buy, they really showcase that it is all about better reaching their audience.

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