The manner in which Brand Communication has evolved in our modern day social online environment has taken its toll on a number of Brands and this is not only true internationally, but in a local capacity as well.
Creating a successful Brand today is not nearly as easy as it was a couple of years ago and this is mostly because of the shift of Brand Communication and power. A couple of years ago companies still had the control and power in the type of Marketing Messages communicated as well as the contents of the Marketing Message – today that power is no longer in the hand of the company, but rather in the hands of the consumers.
The first local Namibian company, which jumps to mind, struggling with their Online Brand Communication is Telecom Namibia. We have all seen how hundreds of unsatisfied customers have turned against Telecom using their Facebook page to post complaints and rant about the companies’ service.
While many companies may argue that this is the main reason they do not want a Social Media Presence like Facebook, it is not fair to place the blame on the Social Media Presence. If a companies’ Social Media Presence is utilised properly it could become a powerful Brand Communication tool.
There are so many small things companies can do to successfully communicate their Brand Message with their existing- and potential- customers. Below are a couple of small changes that can be made to increase your companies’ overall Brand Message:
Stop Advertising and Start Communicating
In Namibia we see several Brands that use their Social Media Platforms, such as Facebook, to only push promotional information to their Fans. Promotional information would range from product launches, to an open vacancy, to a change in management. While Social Media Platforms are ideal to communicate such information with your target audience, it is important not to spam your Fans with too many “buy now, buy now” posts and messages.
Instead of trying to solely use Social Media Platforms to push promotional information, try to use it to engage in meaningful conversation with your fans. Instead of only pushing promotional information, start a discussion in regards to certain aspects of your industry or find out what your existing- and potential customers want from your company.
A good rule-of-thumb when posting on Social Media Platforms is to use 20% of your posts to promote your business, services and products and the remaining 80% to start a conversation with your consumers.
Transparency, the key to thriving online
The biggest mistake seen on Social Media Platforms, both internationally and in Namibia is the company trying to hide or remove negative comments or feedback from Fans. While no one likes receiving negative feedback, deleting the post or comment may end up damaging the Brand more than helping.
Instead of fearing negative posts and comments rather embrace it and see it as an opportunity for you to be transparent with your consumers. For instance, if a client is upset due to poor service take the opportunity to apologise for the poor service and explain how the situation will be rectified. By doing so you are showing your consumers that you care about them, and that their customer satisfaction is very important to you.
By admitting guilt or fault online you are showing your consumers the human side of the company, making it easier for them to relate to your Brand, which should also be one of the main goals of your Social Media strategy. Remember don’t simply apologise, have a plan of action in place.
Stop talking… and listen
Forget about what you think your Brands “Corporate Social Responsibility” should be and rather listen and engage with your audience to find out where and how your Brand can help.
Brands that effectively engage and relate to their consumers end up having stronger online Brand Presences. A perfect example of this would be the music industry where the musicians / Brands are reliant on their listeners for their success. One of the reasons so many musicians become famous is because their listeners can relate to their lyrics and music. In many cases you also see the Band or musician change and adapt their style over years to accommodate a new target audience.
A great example of a controversial South African band who has made it big internationally would be “Die Antwoord”, while hated by many this Band has almost become famous overnight and this is simply because there are a lot of listeners (internationally and in South Africa) who can relate to the band, in most cases listeners do not even understand all of the lyrics. In the 60s and 70s we had bands like Pink Floyd and musicians like Bob Dylan who became famous because there were large communities that were created around their music and lyrics, in fact they still receive new fans and listeners today even after so many years.
Get your employees in line
While Social Media Platforms, like Facebook, give individuals the freedom to express themselves and their views online it is important to consider their online behaviour in relation to your Brand. I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve viewed a profile of a Manager of a company only to end up seeing their drunken photos and hate speech against others – while proudly announcing the company they work for.
Unfortunately you cannot control what your employees say and how they act online; however there are other things you can do to explain the importance of their online behaviour and how it is linked to your Brand. You can provide your employees with useful Social Media Response guidelines providing them with assistance when posting or responding to comments online.
You can provide your employees with a standard disclaimer which they have to add whenever they comment or post something that does not adhere to your companies’ Brand. It is important that employees do not feel alienated because of their Online Behaviour, but rather feel encouraged to become Online Brand Ambassadors for your company.
There are several minor behavioural changes that can assist with Brand Communication online; it can also ensure that your company does not fall prey to Online Trolling, Negative Comments and Feedback. Rather see Social Media Platforms as the powerful Marketing and Brand Communication tools that they can be and embrace this new channel of communication.
I would love to hear your opinion on the matter, so please feel free to comment below or ask any questions you might have. I’m always looking to start interesting conversations.