Social Media and Brand Engagement

In today’s business landscape real branding has been replaced with slide shows of social media billboards (posts) that are expected to deliver the results of a real brand experience.

I was reading an article titled “The Rules of Engagement: How Social Media has Changed the Landscape” by Sandra Lewis. In it, Lewis makes a similar point stating that companies get caught up in sending out messages and forgetting the importance of real, true engagement.

She feels that social media should play a large role in external branding efforts and that companies should consider implementing an Enterprise Social Network (like Yammer). While I agree with the concept, there are two major points that I disagree with.
  1. Not every company needs the added expense of implementing yet another tool. Enterprise Social Networks are really good for companies who have multiple locations and a lot of employees where most likely not everyone knows everyone. Some questions to ask: how and would employees use it? Do employees want to use it? There are so many social tool options out there already and studies have shown that teams are more efficient when they work in person. Throwing yet another piece of technology at them can be like throwing another bag of garbage in the dump—it will just get lost and ignored.
  2. There is more to social media and “external branding efforts” than some seem to think. I see this all the time. Companies see social technologies the same as taking another ad out in yet another magazine. Social media is so much more than that! It levels the playing field and gives everyone an equal voice. If anything it down plays what brands have to say and promotes what Susie down the street is saying about your brand—giving her more value and carrying more weight than what you say; essentially the opposite of an ad! Forgotten as well, is that your employees have personal lives—which means that they are using the public social media tools, and in doing so, can affect your brand. Whether they ever say your company by name doesn’t matter, they’ll make reference to whether they had a good day or a bad, whether they are stressed or not—and it is no secret where any one works any more. Public facing social media tools are just as important for internal branding as they are for external.
So while I disagree with Lewis there, I completely agree that branding matters more now than it ever has before! It’s time that companies stop thinking about branding as this campaign or that and see it as a holistic experience that affects employees, customers, the community, business operations, revenue, efficiency and productivity.
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