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4 ways to flaunt your brand's social media attitude

4 ways to flaunt your brand's social media attitude Tom Edwards

Every enterprise has its own unique personality. When it comes to social strategies, this personality shines through loud and clear. Just as we learn to identify and embrace our individual personalities, we must also recognize that no two organizations are exactly alike. Which stands to reason, then, that enterprise social media is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. When it comes to social strategy, there is no universal formula or magic bullet when it comes to driving ROI.

I find this to be a major source of contention with the brands I consult. They've read an article or they've consulted with an "expert," and they've learned all about what they should be doing. But winning internal executive support proves to be daunting, and attempts to sell the concept typically end at a brick wall. Is this because executives just don't get it? To the contrary, it's because in most cases, they're trying to turn the enterprise into something it's not.

To be successful, a brand's social strategies must complement its personality -- not compete against it. The most successful social media initiatives occur when the strategy is aligned with the core values and personality of the brand itself. We don't ask a wallflower to be the life of the party, nor do we expect a social butterfly to thrive without wings. Whether your enterprise is the thrill-seeker or the strong and silent type, this article is intended to provide both the inspiration and the tools needed to start driving value through your social strategies, in ways that are genuine, realistic, and attainable.

Discover your brand's social personality, along with the keys to unlocking the potential within.

You flitter, you flutter. You are drawn to those with the power to increase your popularity. Taking pride in being on the cutting edge, you were probably one of the early adopters of company blogs and Twitter. You like to be where the action is, darting from one trendy application to the next. On the surface, you've created an impressive following and have successfully led your organization through unchartered territories. But when the conversation turns to ROI, your attention is quickly diverted to a new tactic.

The risks:
Every marketer understands the thrill of winning the attention of customers. But a strategist needs to understand what comes next. "One million fans on Facebook" is only important to your business if you can effectively leverage those connections to drive to a conclusion based on your goals as a business.

Consumer networks are constantly changing and highly dependent upon numerous uncontrollable variables. Social butterflies have a tendency to gravitate toward the buzz-of-the-day without considering the ramifications of "here today, gone tomorrow." Banking enterprise strategy on shaky ground, or superficially scratching the surface of what should be a deep strategy, does not promote the sustainability needed for longer-term success. Without focus and dedication, you can end up disappointing your networks, and will likely fail to receive executive support for future campaigns due to your inability to garner and prove results.

The opportunity:
With a widespread social media presence, you have breadth. But do you have depth? Consumer activity is taking place on consumer networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and it is essential to position your brand where the interaction is happening. Your curiosity and open-mindedness ensure your ability to remain on the cutting edge of consumer engagement strategies, usually out in front of your competition.

Anchoring your social media initiatives in an enterprise-wide strategy will help you strengthen your connections and add depth to your campaigns. Consider ways that bridge your vast social interests with your enterprise. Open authentication, for example, can inspire your fans and followers to leverage existing credentials they may already have from Facebook or Twitter to join your own branded online community. As trendy consumer networks come and go, your brand presence will remain.

You will gain some serious momentum when you can keep those 1 million Facebook fans engaged from one campaign to the next. And when you've shown the rest of the enterprise how it, too, can capitalize -- providing sales with new leads, or identifying customer concerns and proactively handing them over to customer service while the account can still be saved -- you will be the enterprise's rising star.

Known for your crazy antics, those around you never know what to expect next -- that's part of your allure. Fun, carefree, daring, and unconventional, you're the life of the party. You like to take risks, stir things up, and keep your name top-of-mind -- at any cost. Famously fickle, you're not in it for the long haul. When the excitement dwindles, you're already off in pursuit of your next adventure and your next spot in the limelight.

The risks:
You're the source of some of those social media initiatives that have the industry talking: social takeovers, controversial ad campaigns, contrarian blog posts, viral user-generated content contests. But when the excitement wears off, where does that leave your brand? When all is said and done, what have you ultimately accomplished?

Hiring and firing agencies, employee turnover, fighting for new audiences, customer churn, or calling crisis-central to clean up a flurry of controversy all weigh heavily on the bottom line. One-off campaigns can be a lot of fun, but unless they are part of a bigger strategy with staying power, they cannot help to build the momentum that is needed to drive sustainable ROI.

The opportunity:
Transform your 15 minutes of fame into a lifetime of value. People are drawn to you and are interested in what you have to say. After each one of your stunts, you have throngs of followers waiting with bated breath for your next move. You've got what every marketer wants: the ability to capture the attention of a crowd. But now it's time to up your game. Understanding how to extend your allure, capitalize on the attention, and offer your networks something of more substance will further elevate your success.

Sure, you have no trouble filling an auditorium. But when you can provide ongoing value, meaningful relationships, and reciprocity -- in addition to a good time -- you'll not only fill the auditorium... you'll keep your audience members in their seats!

You are beginning to embrace social media but still remain cautious, choosing to take a more passive approach to your strategy. Watching from the wings, you remain at the periphery of the action, speaking only when spoken to. You are content to sit back and listen to those in the spotlight, as long as the spotlight's not on you. When it comes to monitoring social conversation, you're all ears. There's not a word about your brand that gets by you. Yes, you've got a great start, but you have yet to realize the full potential of social media. It's time to take a more proactive role and start influencing the conversations around your brand.

The risks:
You're on a "listen mission" and are monitoring the discussions around your brand through various social networks. Instead of fueling conversations, you're merely eavesdropping on them. Consumers don't hear a lot about you, nor do they hear from you. While you're playing it safe and becoming more and more invisible, your competitors are playing to win.

Without proactively developing relationships with consumers, you risk losing them -- and the resulting revenue -- to your competitors. It is proven that engaged customers not only spend more, but they can also become your greatest advocates ( see iMedia Connection's, "Measure Engagement Not Satisfaction"). If you are not engaging your customers, who is? And what is this reactive strategy costing you, in terms of customer churn and lost revenue?

The opportunity:
Social media doesn't change your business goals; it just changes how you achieve them. No matter what your business objectives may be -- increased employee productivity, improved customer retention, reduced research costs, or more sales -- social media can effectively fuel them all. But none of this can happen without taking an active role in driving social conversation.

Going social doesn't have to move your enterprise too far out of its comfort zone. There are several social strategies that do not require a full-out shift in company culture, yet can have you trading in some of your passive nature for a more proactive approach. At Neighborhood America, for example, connecting our workforce through internal networks was our launching pad into social strategies. Within 12 months, we experienced measurable financial returns of $10,000 per employee. As our teams gained confidence in navigating the social world, we more comfortably expanded our reach externally beyond our walls.

When you're ready for external B2C engagement, an ideation campaign can keep the engagement focused around a single concept or product -- without requiring your organization to reach too far out of the box. This is your opportunity to know your consumers better than your competitors, and design products that meet their needs, improve the customer experience, decrease churn, and increase their lifetime value to your bottom line.

You watch. You learn. And then you figure out how to do it better. You are successful, but not boastful. After all, who needs words when you can let your accomplishments speak for themselves? You welcome calculated risks that are approached strategically and thoughtfully. You focus on value and results. You're already seeing your business transformed through social media, and seek to continue applying these strategies throughout your enterprise.

The risks:
Whether you're using Twitter as a customer service channel or a branded online community platform for crowd sourcing ideas, social media technology is often at the core of many your business operations. But these are typically separate initiatives, and bringing it all together is proving to be overwhelming, if not impossible.

You run the risk of spreading resources too thin and being unable to dedicate the level of attention that's needed to manage both the content and the data. But keep in mind that you are way ahead of the curve and need to proceed with extreme caution. Choosing the wrong platform provider(s) will only magnify this risk. After working so hard to jump way ahead of the curve, you can't afford to partner with someone who will pull you back.

The opportunities:
As more social initiatives are deployed, they must be appropriately managed across the entire organization. Consolidation is more critical than ever, not only to aggregate data but also to enable cross-functional teamwork that efficiently manages your corporate initiatives with consistency.

The opportunity to launch a comprehensive social go-to-market strategy brings with it the ability for your organization to capitalize on the following:

  • The power of the consumer networks

  • The flexibility of an SaaS-branded platform

  • The value of the data created

  • Your existing enterprise systems to deliver even higher value once integrated with social (e.g., social plus CRM)

Question your vendors about data consolidation and the ability to provide a central repository of all social data points. Make sure your consumer networks can interact with your branded online community solutions, and be aware that showing a feed is not true integration. You must have the ability to push and pull content from varying consumer networks so that you can leverage them as one complete platform.

This is the framework that can empower brands with large brand inventories to truly maximize their social media strategy and drive real and immediate value.

Tom Edwards is CMO and VP of sales for Neighborhood America.

On Twitter? Follow Edwards at @theblackfin. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Epsilon is a global leader in data, marketing and technology enablement. As the Chief Digital Officer for Epsilon’s agency business, Tom is guiding Epsilon agency clients as a trusted advisor to meet the business needs of today while...

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