Tag Archives: brands

Employees Using Social Media Can Give Companies a Nasty Virus

virus

A couple weeks ago, a virus had its way with my family. Within a four-day span, all four of us were incredibly sick for 24 hours at a time and it seemed there was nothing we could do to stop the next person from getting it.

That’s because despite how careful we were – quarantining the sick one to a bedroom, dispensing large bottles of hand sanitizer, etc. – it’s impossible to be fully conscious of every single time your hand touches something else in the house. For example, we each hold the handrail when coming down the stairs by habit without even giving it a thought.

It’s not much different for companies that have employees who are active in the social media space. And, honestly, what company doesn’t have at least one employee with a Facebook page or Twitter account?

Social media is like a rabbit hole and it’s easy for employees to either not be fully conscious of all the places they touch or forget that Google can find just about anything. A rude comment on a blog post here. A disparaging Tweet about a client’s home city there. Posting unapproved client work to her online portfolio because she really liked the concept, even though the client picked a different direction.

They can seem harmless enough at the time, but each of these can have a negative impact on your business and strain client relationships. That’s why all companies should have guidelines for employees that outlines what’s acceptable in social media participation and what’s not.

This isn’t to keep them out of social media networks because these tools can bring a lot of good to your organization. But the guidelines remind employees that their online actions can have consequences for both the company and them, and it gives them guardrails to help keep them from mistakenly going off track.

Does your company have these guidelines in place? If so, do you feel they’ve been helpful in better protecting the brand? Should companies have any “say” in what employees do online with personal accounts?

(Image by Fred Armitage.)

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Five Ways Brands Benefit from Social Media: Part 2

Social media brings together people with similar interests.

People with similar interests hang out together.

Those who gather around the new water coolers tend to hang out with others that share common interests. That leads to passionate conversations by people passionate about [insert topic here].

It also leads to opportunities for brands to help facilitate and/or participate in conversations with consumers who share interests with their brand. In most cases, social media tools have brought these people together and we can find where they’re congregating.

Of course, you have to show up in relevant ways. It’s not about you in these places. It’s about the community. Add value. Don’t be self-serving. Participate in the conversation. Don’t try to dictate it. In short, be a good neighbor.

In some cases you can help make the conversation possible by sponsoring forums, message boards, conferences, etc. For example, Tire Rack sells performance tires. It sponsors the Tire & Wheel forum at Bimmer Forums, an online gathering place for BMW owners and enthusiasts. It is helping to enable conversation around a topic it has expertise and interest in.

Another benefit of being able to identify community members with shared interests is the possibility of converting skeptics about your brand to advocates. Accomplishing that is possible. It takes time, patience, honesty, listening, and consistently adding value, among other things, but it can be done. Just ask Richard.

*Image by Jacob Botter.

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Five Ways Brands Benefit from Social Media: Part 1

Are You Invited to the New Water Cooler?

Are You Invited to the New Water Cooler?

Are you looking for concrete brand benefits in regards to implementing social media initiatives? Are you looking for those nuggets that can help sell it in to clients or, for those of you on the corporate side, within your organization?

This week I’ll share a benefit each day. These are by no means the ONLY benefits for brands who engage in social media, so feel free to add others that you fly as a flag when discussing the space with clients. Of course, you should make sure your brand is ready to participate in social media before selling it in.

Social Media Communities are the New Water Coolers
The water cooler was always a place to share rumors, laughs, insights, great experiences, rants and raves. Social media communities are the new water coolers. What’s the big deal? There are two major differences between the old water coolers and the new water coolers.

There are MUCH bigger crowds at the water cooler.
That means that more consumers hear and are potentially influenced by what one person has to say about your brand – good or bad. Remember how one opinion matters more than ever today?

Brands are invited to the water cooler.
This is the BIG difference and the real benefit for brands. You can listen in on online conversations using tools like Technorati, Google Blog Search and Twitter Search. Do you want to know if consumers are talking about your new national campaign and, if so, what they’re saying? These tools can help you do just that.

You can shape the conversations happening online. Notice that “shape” is very different from “dictate.” It’s dialogue and people typically won’t regurgitate your key messages just because you pop in and shout them. But you can correct rumors quickly, share an insightful piece of news for your industry and encourage positive discussions through your meaningful participation.

You can identify brand evangelists and think of appropriate ways to reward them or their connections to create even deeper bonds with your company. Approach a few influential bloggers, give them a product you’re currently testing and ask for their candid feedback. Offer to give them five finished products to give away to their readers through a contest once testing is over and it’s ready to hit the marketplace.

Lastly, the new water cooler gives you an opportunity to keep more customers. If a consumer is ranting about your product or service, reach out to them. If they have a valid argument, consider ways to fix the problem and tell them how you’re fixing it. Thank them for bringing it to your attention. Chances are good that other consumers are having the same problem. That means that addressing it benefits a good percentage of your customers and, consequently, your brand.

Is your brand hanging out at the water cooler? What else are brands missing by not listening to and helping shape the conversations going on there?

*Image by John Brooks.

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Three Reasons You Should Care About Social Media

Many marketers are still apprehensive about involving their brands in social media initiatives. Quite a few still deny that their brands have anything to gain from interacting in the space.

I agree that you have to dive in because it’s right for your brand and NOT because you suffer from shiny object syndrome. After all, social media isn’t right for all companies. But I venture to say that it makes a lot of sense for most. Why? Here are three reasons why it matters and why your brand should seize the opportunities it affords.

One opinion matters more than ever.
People have always shared their negative and positive brand experiences with friends and family, but we have a small circle of influence in the offline world. And it takes a decent amount of effort to rant or rave by phone, e-mail or in-person with everyone you know. So you tell a few of them.

Thanks to social media, the circle of influence that consumers now have has never been bigger. It allows them to cast wider nets by connecting with more contacts. Frequent interaction within the networks and adding value within them also builds each consumer’s level of influence among their contact.

It’s also MUCH easier to rant or rave with social media tools. In 45 seconds, a consumer can use her wireless phone while sitting at a restaurant to praise great service on Twitter, Plurk, her Facebook status, and FriendFeed. In short, consumers can share experiences with significantly more people than before and they can do it faster and easier than ever. This image by Sam Lawrence illustrates the difference in size between our offline and online networks.

Consumers are connected across many social media platforms.
We talk about touch points because we know that the more a consumer sees a brand’s message, the more likely they are to recall it. The graph below from Steve Jurvetson illustrates how members of my social media networks are connected to me in more places. If I have a positive experience and mention it in my Facebook status, send a “tweet” about it on Twitter, share a “plurk” on it and write a blog post about it, a good percentage of my connections will see that message in more than one place. That means that my messages about a brand have a good chance of becoming part of how others see that brand.

Brand reviews within social media play a big role in consumers’ purchase decisions.
The numbers don’t lie. Here are some interesting stats that show how consumers use social media to determine which brands they buy.

  • 68 percent of consumers look to and trust their peers when it comes to product advice (Word Of Mouth Marketing Association – WOMMA)
  • 72 percent of consumers who use social media tools also use them to research a company’s reputation (Society for New Communications Research)
  • 74 percent of consumers who use social media tools choose to do business with companies based on the customer care experiences others share online (Society for New Communications Research)

There are, of course, more than three reasons why brands should care. What have I left out? What compelling information have you used to help show its importance to your clients or within your organization?

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