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

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Social media tools for socialites that is becoming increasingly popular is the internet. Reasons could be many, but main one is the content generated by the users which is directly from the public. Social networking sites and very popular with the users, and plenty of them can be found online. They are free to use and are advanced in technology. The concept of social media optimization utilizes such forms of media for increasing your website popularity and value. As a form of online marketing strategy, it is also a part of functions carried out by the search engine optimizers. Optimization of your content by keyword is crucial here. Make sure you update your content on regular basis. Do not forget to use apt keywords and phrases, but stay within limits and do not over stuff your content. When starting SMO, you should submit your main site to as many social networking sites as possible. Social Media Optimization requires lots of effort and hard work, similar to Search Engine Optimization. One will not be able to craft web space and presence without being patient and hard working. It is the unlimited web presence offered to the website optimizers, that is the main advantage of social networking sites. To increase business popularity, Social Media optimizers can use its name and reputation. Some use a fictional name for this purpose, which is also OK. We can therefore craft a profile of our virtual and non-existing person, but it should be avoided if possible. No matter what name you use, it is crucial that your profile shows strong background and experience in the required field of business. The most common cause of the marketing tools and techniques failure is inadequate exposure to the business that is being promoted which later leads to brand anonymity. It is very important these days that marketing is done in proper and continuous manner. Promoting is very difficult with a new business, but if you do it in a planned manner you can have really good results. Online business, in order to be successful, needs you to put a lot of work and effort. Many optimizers have agreed that social media optimization is a good option for effective website optimization.

Social Media Optimization also involves a clear strategy of the specific tool adoption. Sometimes, the selection of tools are very important more than the Social Media approach. The selections of tools directs us towards a clear goal of reaching our target audience and this has to be planned to what is the overall reach one is looking at. In some cases this is tedious in nature ensuring every tool is connected to each other to ensure a seamless content distribution. But there are some tools such as Friendfeed, Facebook, Tubemogul which helps content dissemination easier.

There has been a significant evolution with the current tools which have come up with more integration options. Thus, hoping to similar evolutions in future which will make things more organized and smoother for any Social Media Programs

Building our Basics

March 12, 2009

This has been a part of me, from a long time.

suddenly,  I  have  started following its concepts more seriously. One of my friend asked me, why i have been inclined to this concept again, when it is considered as outdated. Well.. i don’t think so.. In fact,  SEO has emerged again with the new digital media strategies. We see tagging, we see content here and there,, all that is meant to get visible on search engines. Yes, we no more have to rely on On page optimization factors, as the user interfaces of all social platforms offer these provisions. The only thing we need to look for is the Off page optimization such as where all our blogs, websites are referred in the form of referral links. We should also seriously look at directory submissions, Link Building strategies, Article directory submissions, Search Engine submissions, Ezine directories.. and many more..

Though it  is  a very tedious procedure, Yet it is very very effective. Thanks to the Blended search visibility.

Suddenly I have started concentrating on these areas, as i realized, this is where the roots are. Now I have started realizing the demand of developing a completely optimized websites. I am sure more and more companies will start concentrating on their websites, because even if you build a digital program, one  needs to drive them to the website, and if the site is not up to the mark, then it will a big turn off to the users. Don’t you think it makes sense……

Lets get back to the square one…and build our basics…..first.. That is what it matters now…

Actually it is the same old wine packed in a new bottle. So my dear SEO professionals,,, start getting back to Basics…

Hi, One of my friend Mr Rohan Moorthy who is a PR Professional working with HANMER MS&L, handling clients such as Oberoi Mall, Jotun Paints Shares his viewpoints on how digital media can be useful for his clients and what does he plan to suggest his client about it. He has shared his detail view points on how Digital Media can prove effective to the existing marketing communications.

I am sharing a podcast on a detailed conversation with him on this topic.

The Real-Time News

January 2, 2009

In earlier days the delivery of information to the people was centralized. Where the PR and advertising professionals use to absorb all the important information and deliver it through their defined channel. The PR professionals and advertising professionals were in great demand and were considered to be the most important factor to any success of the business. The companies use to communicate all necessary information to the PR companies and the PR professionals would work towards getting a positively published articles in the renowned publications. After a consistent follow-up with the media and other related people of media such as journalists, editors, senior editors etc the relevant news use to appear after many weeks and months in the publications. But the instant news is instant news. If it appears after many weeks and months later then there would have been many developments in the news itself. But there was no other choice than following this way. This was a clear method of PR driven news. But the delivery of information has never been effective than reaching its consumers directly.

But now, ever since web has opened its arms towards multiple platforms in delivering information, the updates of information to the people has been decentralized. Web has enabled people to look for their own information in their own way and convenience. Hence WEB is becoming an important aspect in delivering information in real time to the consumers directly rather than taking rounds of Journalist’s offices and then the publishers. Sensible marketing and PR professionals should not wait for their old ways of delivering their client’s important and relevant news to the world. The space in the News publications and TV News slots are getting smaller day by day, hence getting difficult to publish client’s relevant news on time. But the clients are still fine, only because they get featured on prime publications and Prime News channels. But things are changing drastically. One should know that WEB allows anyone to publish news at real time.

Now some people who are new to technology and WEB marketing may have problems in understanding what is Real time News or Real time information. The Real time information is something I publish or I post on my website and it reflects immediately to the world. Let us take a clear and simple example. We watch cricket and when we don’t have access to Radio and TV we rely on websites like Rediff.com, because I regularly use Rediff for the cricket updates. You get ball to ball updates. How? Because somebody or technology at the other end is publishing updates regularly. Imagine 20,000 and more people accessing the same page and getting updates ball to ball. Don’t you think this technology is best than any other. Just imagine spending so much of time behind handful of journalists and waiting so many days for coverage to appear in the News publications, Trade Magazines etc. Do you think that in this cyber world its worth waiting to distribute valuable news to the consumers. Certainly not! I have seen many people at superior positions still access their day to day mails. That’s it!

I don’t say that we should not depend on News Publications and Electronic media. But why can’t we use an alternative medium also when it is available at convenience. It just needs a little more focus by marketing professionals and decision makers of the organizations. OH let me come back to the Real time News. Let’s take a real example of a Blog, a social Networking tool. What does it do they all distribute information in real time. The moment you update your personal info and click on publish button. Here we go. The whole new world is seeing what you have published. If your profile or any other information is interesting, you are surely going to get responses on it immediately.

For Example:

I access my Facebook account. I don’t do much on it. But I just update my status message regularly. The last message I updated was “Educating Indian Market on Digital PR” That’s it. Few unknown people whom I don’t know and they are not even my friends at all or not even added in my friends list started chasing me trying to contact me & asking, what kind of profession I am into and what kind of service do I offer. I think this is the best example of Online and Real time news. You have technology readily available to disburse information within seconds. It’s just we have to decide that when do we start doing it?

I am not trying to provoke anybody nor trying to brain wash. But I am giving a clear picture and insights of what WEB can do for us. The best way one could ask us is “what can we do for you”. Now it can be asked this way “what web can do for us”

In my next post i would introduce the new & most powerful Journalists of WEB who actually multiplies the disbursement of information in the world of WEB

Today I am trying to speak out my thoughts on how content or written communication can be effective to marketing communications as well as Consumer Approach  Communications

whatever I write or whatever I think,  I always try to relate with some real life examples…

Okay sounds interesting…

One Real Life example:

We had a great New-year. Me and my wife did’nt go anywhere and didn’t have any fun that night. We thought of celebrating this new-year through quarrelling with each other.. hmmmm..thats the story of every married couple. L I was very excited on 31st morning and was expecting some last moment plans. Suddenly my cousin called me and asked me to accompany him at some resort where he had passes for. I really got carried away. But unfortunately my wife had to go to office the next morning. So I asked my cousin to tell her that he wants me to come with him. Listening to this I called her. She banged the phone and then I realized the possible danger at home that night. So I wrote her an SMS

Me – “Hey sweetheart I m not going anywhere. I m sorry I got carried away sweety. I am coming early home by 5 & be with you” – 26 words

My wife replied to it – “I hate 2 faced ppl u bluff u dnt hav money m married 2 d mst selfish man dnt use ur cousin 4 ur purposes nw I will make it a pnt nt 2 b wit u plz dnt show me ur face2day n tmrw wnt 2 b alne m serious. Just go to hel nw I no hw much u realy care wl nt be wit u on my b’day also bye…”  – 73 words

Me – “trust me sweety u were always in my mind it just happened that way . this year I want to start happily with u. let us forget all these things, trust me I did’nt any such intentions & my cousin was about to sponser on it and forget it u will still think the same L (a smiley or other emoticons does matter in these cases)”
66 words

My wife replied to it – “dats d reasn u initiated dis plan. Hav no reasn 2 trust u on dis. 4get it I still wish 2 b alne bye tak care” – 26 words

Me – “I didn’t reply anything to it. Just kept quite and anticipating a message from her”

My Wife replied to it – Milk has nt cum – 4 words

[In my above interaction with my wife which was written communication and not verbal, really helped saving my day. I could even got her convinced.]

My overall view point on this is to show how effective can written communication be. Same way whatever we write to our consumers or whatever we promote should try to speak their language. I have seen so many other marketing communications; it does have any clarity in the message and does not connect them. Every consumer will like to feel special about whatever is being offered to him. One should develop a customized communication to reach our targeted consumers. Online marketing, rather social media marketing do follow these tactics. We cannot write messages with jargons or technical words. Social Media Marketing does not encourage jargon based communication. It needs to be simple and connect everyone. But I am not saying that it needs to be in casual tone. But whatever communication we develop should be very simple and self explanatory.

I receive lot of emails from Banks, Insurance companies, Clubs & Resort for Membership. I just don’t feeling like reading them at all. Maybe that is the strategy of mass mailing system. But every marketer in similar industry needs to change they way they approach. What if we target 100 Customers and communicate with them the way they want it to be. I am sure 80 people would turn out to be your genuine customers.

Old ways of Marketing such telemarketing, Teaser Marketing etc no more works. How many people would like to receive calls from unknown people who try to pitch for new deals and offers. Yes, but a well explained email, sms or a message would surely provoke a customer to read through it. Especially when an email gives you insight of how can insurance help you in your near future. What if you don’t have insurance, what are the possible problems you might face. These are just examples.

What I am trying to make all the marketers clear is that POPUP marketing and direct marketing does not work anymore. Lets use mediums through which a consumer would like to be contacted. Show him insights of it. Lets not show them a comparative report about how many customers do you have or how many branches do you have or how big your organization is, but what we offer and how we offer is important.

I am very much close to permission based marketing. But I am not talking about it. I am trying to explain that people need time to go through and would like to act upon their convenience. A nicely written email can do miracles to your business. Not an embedded emailer or a telemarketing executive which does not connect to your needs, but interrupts you in every possible way. I have also observed one more aspect of the telemarketing executives. For eg: They offer a deal or a scheme and we say we are not interested, but you know twhat hey ask you “WHY”     🙂

I certainly don’t blame them, because they have enough pressures to meet their targets. But the entire marketing strategy goes wrong this way.

I receive lots of emails with embedded emailer which does not speak anything to me. It just acts like an online banner. Hey guys what am I achieving by looking at it. It does not speak about my needs, It does not even interact. And I also know that it has been sent by an automated system.

What consumers look for is Real thing & not Reel thing. May be a representative interacting from an HSBC corporate office and not from an outsourced call centre would interest me to look into their offerings. The whole point revolves is consumers want a real approach which connects them with the offerings. Same way people can also report their complaints and can be assured of responses.

Social Media Marketing revolves on written communication; people ask me queries on Social Media marketing or digital PR. Sometimes the questions are very difficult but I am able to answer them b’coz I get time to prepare myself and answer them.

Let me give one more example to it.

In Traditional PR, we have Press meets, Press conferences, one-on-one media interaction who are always ready to ask many questions in a typical way  about the organization or some mistakes unintentionally came across . PR agencies do train their client in how to reply journalists or reporters but its very difficult to give a justified answers to spontaneous questions being asked by the media. So why not develop a different medium where those actual things can also be communicated.

Say an angry consumer reacting to the problems faced though a product might be very difficult to handle face to face. But if the same person is online react the same way, especially with bloggers & direct consumers, its easier to handle them through written communication at the same can also convince a customer throughout. My only idea is  to also tap the online medium along with other  mediums. Especially negative articles published online can be converted into positive reviews through proper communication from the organization’s representative. This needs a complete participation, interaction using Social Media. This helps an organization to avoid further damages to their image.

Similar way I tried to convince my wife in not reacting further to the incident 🙂