December 22, 2009

Orchestrating A Brand Strategy in Social Media An effective social media strategy is a direct extension of a brand strategy executed artfully in new channels. The brand posture, positioning and personality should guide the development and deployment of social media assets and attitudes so that the brand speaks with a single voice across media consistently engages customers, prospects, media, investors or other constituent audiences. The forums are new; the basic marketing approach is not. Alona Elkayam says that “social media has an enormous impact on brand equity” and argues that brands should “maintain a coherent brand position that unites your website, your Twitter feeds, your Facebook presence and each campaign you run.” She cautions brand managers to “make sure that the social media component maintains and is an ambassador of the corporate position.” Forrester calls this idea “owned” media and argues that a skillful understanding of the properties of distinct social media orchestrated or leveraged effectively in service to brand objectives will yield customer engagement, consistent messaging, brand portability and possibly a boat load of “earned” or free and viral media pass-along. Imagine that rather than concentrating your web presence in a single web site you distribute the messaging using satellite sites and by syndicating content to present your brand in an array of venues aligned with an array of target audiences and brand objectives. This creates a much wider and deeper conversation between your brand and your customer base at modest cost increments. Syndication trumps destination in this model where content elements (e.g. games, videos, animations, polls, images) become media attracting, alluring and interacting with those you seek to know, engage and persuade. By orchestrating content and brand positioning through social media, marketers can maintain a level of control and initiative in the face of user-created content and uncontrollable user interactions and conversations. The key to mobilizing social media to achieve this result is to understand clearly what the social media properties are, who uses them and how they are commonly used. Consider these preliminary observations: Brand Website. Shop window for the brand aimed at educating and engaging prospective employees and clients. A web site validates the brand’s claims offline and establishes a tone and manner for digital communication. The persuasive burdens is to quickly and easily present the value proposition, build demand and prompt lead generation or purchase. A site should be the base of operations for online marketing and include the mother lode of data, imagery and copy necessary to fully represent the brand posture. Separate landing pages should be constructed to manage campaigns and the site should be optimized for natural search. Blogs can be built-into brand sites or established (and linked to) as independent entities depending on the content and the marketing objectives. Facebook. This is a personal CRM tool where people of all ages manage relationships and connections. Different age groups use it differently but all are protective of their privacy and uniformly try to separate their personal lives and connections from their business lives. Brands are welcome, but only on restricted terms. Facebook is a cheerleading and affinity building tool for brands. Some have sold merchandise and distributed coupons but no best practices have yet emerged. Fans seem to want deals but overt selling or shilling is frowned upon. Brands are experimenting with Facebook in linking online and offline behaviors, but its too early to make generalizations. Facebook seems to be a place to illustrate or articulate your brand personality and begin to gather friends and fans around you. Linking your Facebook page to your web site adds to your search authority because it is among the most semantically optimized platforms. The same holds true for MySpace and Friendster. LinkedIn. Primarily a job-hunting, network-building site, LinkedIn skews older and slightly more male. They have a range of discrete targeting options that enable you to zero-in on target segments or individuals. People to turn LinkedIn to check out companies, prepare for interviews or find a way into your eco-system. Your brand profile should be consist and enticing but not enough to give away your strategy. LinkedIn Groups are a second avenue into the database. Many offer discussions and forums which enable a marketer to float trial balloons, test arguments or offers and solicit ideas and practical advice. Conversation is fluid and almost entirely business focused. Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the default knowledge bank on the web. A huge percentage of searches end there so you have to be present. Interaction is at a minimum since people search, find, read, print and exit....
5 Steps to Avoid One-Night-Stands with Your Brand It takes a lot to create brand awareness, preference and purchase and the goodwill that is created as each individual accepts, internalizes and aligns them with your brand. Yet like lust, it can evaporate quickly or swing into emotional reverse in a second, if the love is unrequited in the course of the initial brand experiences. Consider this real-life example. For months, a successful professional woman is thinking about a new personal computer. She reads everything she can find. She talks to everyone she knows. Interested, but clearly a digital immigrant, she slowly rallies to the idea of an Apple MacBook Pro. She scours the Apple website. She visits the Apple store several times to hover over the potential purchase. She quizzes the associates and gets the feel of the track pad on her fingers. She examines the machine from every angle mentally picturing herself typing purposefully, carrying it to meetings and surfing the Net from bed. She’s emotionally trying the brand on. Slowly and deliberately over several months, she talks herself into the purchase. She knows it’s double the cost of a new PC. She is clearly in touch with her anxiety about learning new moves. Worried that she might not truly be a “Mac person” in her heart of hearts, she discusses the prospective purchase endlessly with her Mac-enabled friends listening closely for support, validation and any signs of doubt.. On her 8th visit to the new Apple Store on West 68th Street & Broadway, she makes the leap of faith. Encountering the young androgynous salesperson, 30 years her junior, she test drives the MacBook Pro for the last time. Her questions are answered. Her doubts are put to rest. She buys the machine and the $99 Apple Care package. Excited by the prospect of one-on-one training, she schedules her session 48 hours later -- right then and there. Giddy like a teenager she puts the funky bag on her back and struts home feeling like she’s turned over a new leaf and tuned a corner in her computing life. She calls all her friends, excited to report her new purchase and eager to be welcomed into the ranks of the Apple faithful. Fast forward 48 hours. She is awakened early Sunday morning with a call from the Apple Store. They pre-emptively cancel her first training session claiming that the store will be hosting a concert at that exact moment. When asked why they scheduled her in the first place, she gets a non-answer answer. The next opening isn’t for 5 days. The Apple Store rings off. Our new brand loyalist is pissed off. Feeling heart-broken and betrayed, buyer’s remorse sets in even before she’s unpacked or plugged in her new machine. Her excitement and empowerment turn to dust. She rants to all her friends. The moral of this tale: Understand how and why buyers buy. Appreciate the emotional commitment buyers make to your brand Accept the idea that purchase is not the end, but the beginning of a relationship Do everything you can to eliminate disappointments within the first week of purchase Anticipate everything that can go wrong and structure your system to avoid them

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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