Social Media

Why Social Media Can’t Save Your Brand

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The great myth of social media brand building
height=”180″ Image courtesy of aditza121

“Brand building” is always mentioned as one of the biggest benefits of social media.

By giving companies a “voice”, they can get the word out to more people.

But a funny thing happens when you give people a voice, too.

They use it.

Mashable just released a puff-piece about AT&T’s new social media campaign.

AT&T is taking advantage of the personal nature of social media with a new campaign called “Thank You Notes” that will include 500 customized YouTube videos thanking fans in song.

The effort, which began Tuesday, is a celebration of the brand hitting 2 million fans on Facebook. Fans interested in getting their own song are encouraged to fill out a form with their name, city, musical genre and reasons “why you’re awesome.”

Sounds great, right? They’re trying to “be personal”, “connect individually” with fans, and use “internet memes” – all at the same time. Looks like they’re hitting your typical social media marketing advice on the head.

Well what do you think the first comment on the article says? (And I’m not making this up…)

Diane S.: They should spend their time and money getting a better Customer Service process in place.

There are a lot of trolls on the internet. But this hints at a deeper issue.

It doesn’t matter how good your social media presence is, if your product and service isn’t good.

In today’s harsh online environment, your brand value is derived from your product and service value – not from marketing or advertising.

Social Media Comic: Why Don't Our Customers Like Our Facebook Page?
Image courtesy of seanrnicholson

The Back of a Cabinet

What are your favorite, top 5 brands in the world?

Most people usually have Apple somewhere near the top.

Yet they virtually have zero social media presence, and mediocre customer support.

But guess what they do have.

Awesome, delightful, beautiful products.

Most of this can be attributed to Steve Job’s obsessiveness with design aesthetic. His biography gives us more insight:

His father refused to use poor wood for the back of cabinets, or to build a fence that wasn’t constructed as well on the back side as it was the front. Jobs likened it to using a piece of plywood on the back of a beautiful chest of drawers. “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

Your brand value today is derived from the quality of your product or service – not what you say on your Facebook page.

3 Social Media Marketing Lessons for Every Brand

1. Embrace the Age of Excellence

Today, your product and service is your marketing.

Serial entrepreneur and angel investor Jason Calicanis, says we’re living in The Age of Excellence.

In today’s highly visible, transparent, connected and “winner take all” world, if you’re product and service isn’t 5 stars, then it’s over.

It doesn’t matter if you like or agree with it. That’s just the way it is.

So how can you figure out where you stand, and how to improve?

Use the Net Promoter Score to get an idea:

How likely is it that you would recommend [Company X] to a friend or colleague?

Customers respond on a 0-to-10 point rating scale and are categorized as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

To calculate your company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), take the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors. If all this sounds complicated, there are automation solutions that will save you time and make the process seamless and easy. Check out the best NPS software solutions available.

Now compare yourself to others. (Hint: Amazon is at 76%, which is very high.) And figure out how to move that number up.

Because if someone has a bad experience and complains on Yelp, then it doesn’t matter how good you are at Twitter marketing.

The damage is already done.

2. Get Your House in Order

Social media has to be “in-house” to be effective.

You can’t outsource it, and you can’t hire an intern to sit on Twitter.

Social media is the new PR for most companies today. It’s the most public facing position your company has. If you can’t take it serious or invest in it properly, then don’t bother starting it.

Sure, you can use consultants or agencies to help you run social media promotions or special campaigns or to create an iconic logo for your brand to stand out of the crowd. But the day-to-day work has to be aligned with your business goals.

Which leads us to the next point.

3. Don’t Open Yourself Up (If You Haven’t Earned it Yet)

Most companies shouldn’t open themselves up in social media until they’ve earned respect.

Chris Brogan recently wrote that you shouldn’t “push” a Twitter hashtag – unless you have pre-existing trust and relationships in social media.

He gave examples of how Wendy’s use of a hashtag went awry, while Taco Bell executed it perfectly.

The difference?

Wendy’s didn’t have an authentic, pre-existing community developed. So when they opened up their social media presence and asked for the world’s opinion, they got it. People complained, made jokes, and gave them every sarcastic answer you could imagine – except for actually answering the question.

Using a hashtag for your brand isn’t impossible.

But first you need relationships and trust in place.

Social media can help. But it can’t drive by itself.

The Bottom Line

Social media gives you incredible communication tools.

But it can’t save your brand.

Only your product and service can do that.

My favorite “branding” quote is from Seth Godin, who says the key to marketing and branding is:

“Keep your promises.”

If you say you’ll show up every day at 8 am, do so. Every day.

If you say your service is excellent, make it so.

If circumstances or priorities change, well then, invest to change them back. Or tell the truth, and mean it.

If traffic might be bad, plan for it.

Is there actually unusually heavy call volume? Really?

Want a bigger brand? Make bigger promises. And keep them.

Your brand value is directly proportional to your product and service value.

That’s what drives your social media presence.

And there’s no way around it.

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