Your brand and social media

I had coffee with Trevor Young from Park Young last week and along the path of our interesting and winding conversation the role of brand and social media reared its head. We both agreed that the “should I be on Twitter?” question ranks up there with the most annoying we both get asked.

So what’s the right question? Well that depends. In reality there is no one question because despite the way most companies approach it, social media is not a tactic but an ethos. And as an ethos it is simply not something that will work for everyone.

This is not a do and don’t list for social media – there are lots of people far more qualified than I am to do that for you. My questions and interest in the role of social media is more of a strategic one.

The fact is, if you are not willing to embrace the corporate and cultural ideals of transparency, openness and engagement then you will struggle to make social media work no matter how much time and money you throw at it.

It is not a given for every organisation and I know that flies in the face of much that passes for marketing wisdom.

Not every organisation has a customer base that wants to be engaged with in that way. One of my favorite articles on this topic is titled “I don’t want to be friends with my butter” and I couldn’t agree more.

Not every organisation has a culture of communications that will lend itself to social media tools. If you don’t like to share the workings of your organisation with people outside now, the chances that social media will magically instill that are slim to none.

Not every organisation has relationships that can translate into a conversation – because first and foremost social media is a conversation between you and someone else.

Not every organisation has products and services that lend themselves to ongoing engagement – see earlier article reference on butter.

By now you get the idea.

Just as true is that some organisations are custom-made and hard-wired for social media. And truth be told, even if you are not actively engaging in social media you might be a passive participant as your customers or other stakeholders talk about you with each other and no one in particular.

That doesn’t mean you have to jump into the fray and try and control the conversation, you can have an impact just by delivering on your promises every time.

So, back to the question that started this blog – how to know whether social media is for you? Start with the same question that drives every other aspect of your business. Who are we and why are we here?

If social media fits into the answer then great. If not, don’t worry, it doesn’t make you a bad company, a bad brand or a behind the times. The bottom of the cliff is crowded with companies who blindly followed everyone else.

Don’t be afraid to be true to who you are. It is always the best idea.

See you next week.

Michel Hogan is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog – Brand Alignment.

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