Companies invest millions of dollars a year on their brand, whether they realize it or not.
Everything a company does – from how they engage their customers, to how they recruit employees and how they market their products — are all rolled up in a corporate brand and contribute to people’s perceptions of that brand.
But one aspect many companies simply fail to acknowledge as a significant part of their investment is.
This simple fact has two big word: social media.
What’s in a Word?
With the advent of social media, the value of “word of mouth” has gone up exponentially. That 1970s Faberge commercial that follows along the lines of, “I’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends” has shifted at a pace comparable to Moore’s law and the progress being made with processing power.
In a recent Nielson Social Media Report (October 2011) it was found that 60 percent of social media users create reviews of products and services, and that consumer created reviews/ratings are the preferred source for information about product/service, price and product quality.
In addition, the report also found that 70 percent of social media users make online purchases, 12 percent more than other online users do.
The case in point is that your customers are out there talking about you. And they are doing it now.
They are either positively or negatively influencing others’ purchasing decisions regarding your product or service.
So Where’s the Training?
A recent survey of HR professionals by the Society of Human Resources Management found that 68 percent of organizations have employees who use social media to reach external audiences, including potential customers and employees. That same survey (Social Media in the Workplace) also found that only 27 percent of employers provide social-media training to their employees. (Only 27 percent!!)
A company’s online brand must be responsive, authentic, and innovative in order to maintain both existing “fans” while also attracting new “fans.”
Due to the fast pace of change in the social media arena, companies must think ahead and create a plan that can evolve with the market.
Enhancing your Business and Brand
The beauty of social media is that you can use and tailor it to your needs. This flexibility gives you quite a bit of freedom when using the various avenues available to you to support and build your brand and business. However, you need to be doing a few key things to be utilizing it to its full potential.
It is important that you learn how to correctly use social media so that you don’t let it manage your brand; You need to manage your social media to enhance your brand.
Questions for Leaders
With that, we suggest you ask yourself the following questions concerning your enterprise:
- Do you have a social media policy for employees that represent your brand?
- Do you allow your employees to add your organization to their LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter accounts? (Why or why not?)
- Have you, as an organization (or as an individual) offered or received training on the importance of social media and the positive and or negatives it may have on you or your organization? (Many companies have an employee termination clause in contracts around disparaging or inappropriate use of social media. Then again, many don’t.)
- Do you use social media for “brand-building?”
- What, if any, analytics do you track?
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