Humanizing your Brand!

October 6, 2010

It is important for any of the brands to act more as people and not as  automated systems. I have even come across brands who use tools like Hootsuite, Cotweet, Jist and many more to post content regularly in order to look like an active brand.

But, that’s not sufficient for the brands. Most of the time one has to  interact with users regularly in order to suggest, resolve and discuss around various conversations and make sure there are real people behind every Twitter or Facebook Profile

But what about organizations that are leveraging employee participation to communicate with their audiences through social media? Here are a few tactics to consider implementing to humanize your brand:

  • Instead of an icon or logo, use a team photo for your Facebook page or corporate twitter account to show that real people are behind the brand.
  • Include the names of employees representing the brand in any account profiles, about us pages, etc.
  • Include a page on your blog with author profiles and photos – offer a behind the scenes look at their role within the organization.
  • Have a monthly “Meet our Team” post on your blog or Facebook page. This could include a text entry with an attached image or a video post that offers some insight into the personality of the organization.
  • Build stories around individual employees’ favourite products, why they love them, how they use them, etc.
  • Encourage team members to communicate on behalf of the brand through their own twitter accounts – which would include their photo, their role within the organization and a link back to the company website.
  • Get out of the office – have a plan that bridges digital communication with face-to-face audience interaction. This could include employees speaking at industry functions, hosting seminars or educational events, employee volunteerism within your community, regular pr/service visits into the marketplace, etc.

What other tactics could you implement to humanize your brand?

Understand Your Audiences

A word of caution before pulling the curtain back on your organization – take some time to really understand the needs of your internal and external audiences. Before setting out to humanize your organization through social media:

  1. Communicate social media goals and guidelines with employees – particularly if they will be representing your brand through personal accounts of off- hours.
  2. Understand the information needs of your audience and balance the frequency of culture posts – personal stories are great for building relationships but it’s important to be mindful of the fact that too much content related to the organization may not be of interest to your stakeholders.

These are the most aspects that any brand should start following. This will certainly help a brand to avoid crisis as Dominos Pizza faced last year.

Pls Note: This post was been inspired by the original post on Social Media Explorer

Advertisements

Blogging at work place

August 16, 2010

Initiating a Blogging culture is a great way to start venturing into a collaborative space. Technically, it does connect an individual effectively amongst other employees. It also helps an individual to showcase his/her talent by contributing on various organizational efforts. It may refer to organizational skills, productivity, Ideas towards various internal enhancements.

Blogging is a very pro-active engagement tool for employees who have been working in an organization for long. Many a times, employees miss opportunities to share their talent or practices with other colleagues or management due to their  nature of being introverts. Hence, Blogging can be a great tool for such people to be part of various conversations and practices.

Most of the times, we end up speaking about Team efforts, but we always to miss that fact in our various efforts. Collaborative Blogging can be great way to gather every employee to participate and build team orient efforts.

Especially, when an organization manages their Corporate Blog, participation from various employees or teams does add lot of value towards the company’s reputation in the online space. The best reputation can any organizations have is to be united and speak on message across.

For Eg: Blogging at Workplace can have many advantages:

  • Integrates the Marketing & Customer Service related activities with seamless communication
  • Encourages and Involves employees in building the company reputation by indulging into various online conversation on behalf of the organization. Feels good and motivated!
  • Builds more valuable and adequate information for the organization  such as Contribution from various departments such as  Product, Service, Marketing, Management, Research & Development, Purchase, HR. Hence, positioning an organization as a Knowledge Leader in the online space and also showcasing the best place to work

Similar to Advantages, Blogging can also have it own negatives:

Though Blogging could be the best thing to do for internal communications, but it does have its own negative effects too. Blogging can also damage one’s reputation or also get the company’s reputation at stake. Every organization needs to build its own Social Media Engagement policies, which will restrict employees to use this medium for their personal benefits. However, there have been cases in abroad where this medium is been utilized to damage the company’s reputation. Hence, a moderation process also needs to be set internally, where each article, post and conversations are been filtered, reviewed by the moderator regularly. In India, the trend has been subtle and no such cases have been recorded. However, it is imperative to follow such processes before venturing into democratic platforms

Negatives:

  • Damage company’s reputation
  • Posting confidential documents or videos which might effect the company’s policies
  • Complains and grievances shared on a specific product by using fake identities which is a deliberate effort to effect company’s reputation

Lately, when people talk about social media, they are referring to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn only. This is because everyone is trying to follow each other here. But no one is ready to do things differently.

Lets say, We all have misunderstood Twitter and Facebook Completely. Most of the users on Twitter end up sharing about themselves. But it does not help anyone anymore. Say Twitter is more about sharing useful information and not just say that you are in a washroom, washing your hands and legs and Twitter isn’t a GPS system. Twitter is a powerful tool than we have imagined it to be. News, Useful information which benefits others  plays a major role

Same thing with Facebook, Today every Brand things their target audience is on only Facebook.. Sorry sir.. You are mistaking it.. Facebook is just a 5% of the overall social media approach. Well you can certainly find more opportunities in the list below.  All the best Marketers 🙂

However, social media started well before these tools were part of the landscape. Now, social media has a lot more to offer.

If we think back, early forms of social media were bulletin boards or forwarding emails and sometimes online newsletters too.

Now, we have certainly long way to go to explore all these opportunities. I tool agree that India is still in the evolving stage of Social Media. But I guess, we all will start using the below activities very soon. I feel these activities will certainly justify the efforts made in Social Media for every Social Media Marketer.

Here is a list of some opportunities and/or tools to consider when you’re thinking about how to use social media in your business:

Important Tip : Hey Small Business have more and more options to explore here...

  • Blogging
  • Bookmarking
  • Comment/Reputation
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Customer Service
  • Documents/Content
  • Events
  • Forums
  • Lifestreaming
  • Livecasting
  • Location
  • Micromedia
  • Music
  • Photos
  • Reviews/Ratings
  • SMS/Voice
  • Video

Wonder who is going to handle all of this for a Brand 😉

This refers to the Online  initiative taken by one of the Insurance Giant, Aegon Religare. Recently I was invited for one of the Blogger Meet, I am not sure if they had really visited my Blog which purely talks about Social Media and Online PR efforts made in India.  Well, I was really impressed with the efforts made by them to tap online Influencers and also the focus in the online Communications.

I have been discussing this fact in many of my older posts that Indian clients have to be more serious and focused in tapping the online Communications. Here it goes. Aegon Religare came up with a portal which purely relies on digital communications. They recently came up with http://buyonline.aegonreligare.com. Whats important about this portal is it does give a consumer the flexibility of subscribing to various Insurance schemes, but most importantly it has a focused CRM logic, which not only helps a user saving time and energy, but also regularly keeps him updated about his/her Policies. The tool has been developed based on extensive consumer research which very much fits the Social Media Model. Lastly, this tool and the associated Insurance schemes are exclusively sold online. That says it all.

Though it was a 2 hr Digital meet, but there was no mention about the Brand or any kind of promotional communication from Aegon Religare. They got it right here.. I guess they really understand what needs to communicated to the online Influencers.

The Best part of this meet was I had gained extensive knowledge about Insurance and what suits and fits my income. I am sure many of us have a wrong perception towards Insurance. The entire meet was presented by Mr. Yateesh Shrivastav, who was indeed very good in explaining and expressing facts. Most importantly he knew very well knew about the consumer’s perspective. That is what every brand needs to do… right..:)

“Insurance is always sold and never Bought” – Says Mr. Yateesh Shrivastav. I think this is the current scene in the market and there has to be a strong education done to everyone of us. We will await till the people realize the importance of Insurance in their lives 😉

He also questioned everyone about “what is the Total Insured Value of an individual” some said 1,00000 and some said 5,00000. Is this enough for the rest of our life or this is the actual value of an individual ? Gets us thinking.. right…. Everyone should think of it.

I think this is a great beginning for a Brand to use Social Media as one the key tools to market and share about their developments. I am sure very soon more and more Insurance Brands will follow Aegon Religare to support their marketing and customer service initiatives, keeping the cluttered world in minds.

This is a great example of using Online Communications as a key medium to connect the consumers directly. I hope I have not been very goodie to goodie for the Brand, but yes I do appreciate their initiative.

Some learnings out of this Blogger Meet at Mumbai :

  1. Don’t Push Branding messages
  2. Push about what you do and what you offer clearly with no loopholes, explain it without Jargon
  3. Be very clear in language and try explaining things in the customer perceptive
  4. Try accepting Market – Marketing facts (Good or Bad)
  5. Keep your focus very clear in communicating things
  6. For some reason if you had goofed up in some communication , please cross check then confirm it again, consumer will surely understand and will allow you to improvise on it proactively
  7. Also mention what are the current infrastructure loopholes and also mention about regularly working towards improvising it to make customer experience smoother
  8. Share your research secrets and key insights of your research, this will do help a customer to understand the Brand really well

To Sum up, its an initiative to be noticed and an example for all the Brands 🙂

Gifts & Prizes are no more special to anyone.  In India, Marketers have started misusing Social Media for their own benefits. I keep coming across many new blogger contests, where they have started giving prizes for tweeting and writing about their brand in their blogs. Well I would like to refer the recent one which I just came across organized by Indiblogger.in and Peppysophia.com. The way they have communicated about the blogger contest is truly commercial and intentional. Hmmmmm…. Why are marketers trying to spoil and control this medium.

Why can’t marketers leave it to a blogger to write whatever he or she feels about. Why are marketers making it more obligatory to write positive about them.

Prizes, Money and expensive gifts do spoil people’s mind and their skills. But one has to understand and make their own decision, whether to support these acts or discourage these acts. Believe me, being in a controlled messaging world, I feel social media is a place where one can express his or her views openly without any hassles.

I recently came across few blogger communities who are equally supporting these acts. Please guys.. why can’t we keep these communities clean and not handover ourselves to these selfish motives.

Certainly, there are other marketers who understand the value of Blogs and other Social Media Platforms, who see that they don’t loose out the essence of this platform. I would term Social Media as People’s Media.

So let people decide what is wrong and what is right and not try to influence them with Gifts & Prizes. Of course, there can be gratifications, but there should not be any motive behind it.

Needless to say, this shows that how valuable our comments and our suggestions are.  They do get considered, which certainly acts as Word of Mouth (WOM) publicity. There can be few aspects to look at it :

  1. Wants to share information about their brand
  2. Wants to distribute information across multiple channels
  3. Wants to conduct a survey through Bloggers
  4. Wants people to review their product
  5. Wants to build direct relationship with the consumers
  6. Wants to observe or keep a close eye on how a product is performing
  7. Wants to be more transparent about their functionality and their operations
  8. Considering the fact that online users are far more powerful than the people behind using traditional news items such as Publications and electronic media, so caring about online users is justified

Only these are possibilities due to why one wants to invite Bloggers or run a social Media campaign or there can be some detailed reasons from the above.

All others could end up tampering an individual’s opinion and views.  So friends, lets not get influenced with these worthless Gifts and Prizes which influences us to tweak our thoughts and opinions.

Website or a Blog

January 11, 2009

This had always been a debate through out my experience in Online Marketing & Social Media Marketing. Lot of people are still amused in differentiating a Blog and a Website.

I come across  many people who always keep asking me what is a Blog, certainly they know about a website. I keep telling them, it’s just another website which is available on a shareable domain name such as yourname.wordpress.com, myname.blogspot.com.

Well to justify it. There is absolutely no difference in a website and a Blog. Both are web pages built for certain needs. The only difference is that a website can be customized in any form and then can be uploaded. But whereas, a Blog is a predefined template and can use only the defined features in it.

For new entrepreneurs, Authors, celebrities a Blog is the most ideal tool for online communication. Many clients who are authors, Celebrities do ask me for a website. But I always suggest them for a Blog. It gives all features such as uploading content, Images, Video and many more. Blogs can also be hosted on a defined domain, for further customization to make it look like exactly a website. In fact it is an easy way of launching your online Identity within minutes. Online Search Engine Optimization, formatting of the content, renaming of the images, assigning right kind of keywords, linking, interlinking etc, almost everything is possible. You can even add multiple pages to your Blog to make it look like a website. So what else one does want?

In such a competitive online world, everyone feels that an online identity is must, hence small entrepreneurs can really use this concept to spread their business across the digital space in minutes. Because the new upcoming companies will surely not have the kind of content and topics as seen in the website. Many people are still not convinced with the html page driven website or a Blog, they still feel that a flash based website is more interactive and attractive. But this is not the case any more, nowadays people look for unique and informational content. They no more feel the impact. If one observes, most of the popular sites available online are all HTML, CSS driven sites. Certainly it can attract many search engines effectively, hence also gaining a popular ranking in it. Well creating a Blog is certainly very cost effective and can be done in minutes, without worrying about time, creativity, content. This is has been the most popular concept available online.

I always think that we see it the way we perceive it. But sometimes we should see the logical aspect of it. In India, many people do think that a Blog and a website are two different things. But, it is absolutely not. I hope that all our young and upcoming entrepreneurs do realize this aspect and would identify their ready made online presence available for free. Imagine if this happens, we would achieve a breakthrough in internet communication in India, which is still lacking at times. It is certainly a very cost effective and a convenient tool to use.

But when do we start realizing?