Social Media: Who's Talking ABout Your Brand?

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Social Media: Who's Talking ABout Your Brand? Consumers are talking, even if you're not listening. This is a white paper on why a social media plan should be a part of your branding strategy.


  • 1. K N G D E S I G N Social Media: Who's Talking About Your Brand? June 2009 KNGDESIGN 2009

2. 2 Table of ContentsExecutive Summary 3 What is Social Media? Should I Care?4 Conversation, Back by Popular Demand5 Where Do Conversations Happen?6 Who Should Talk? (Hint: it's not an intern) 7 Hey, Listen!8 Google Loves Action 9 Trade vs. Public Opinion: Which One Counts More? 10 What Tools?11 Where Is Everyone? Who is Everyone?12 How Does This Sell Products? 13 How to Start?14 Once Begun, Is This Forever? Who Has Time for This?15 Who Are We and Why Are We Such Smarty Pants? 16 Appendix 17 KNGDESIGN787 Del Ganado RoadSan Rafael CA 94903 415.721.0525 Twitter:@kungdesign Posterous: email: 3. 3Executive SummarySocial Media is user-created content that shares ideas and opinions with an online audience. Communication on a broad scale was, until very recently, reserved for organizations with big budgets. But now consumers are driving brand perception via social media tools that have democratized the ability to reach, inuence and shape opinions about products and brands.In a study, 60% of consumers trusted online consumer reviews and opinions. An average of just one- third trusted company-created ads and direct mail. Consumer-created content has nearly twice the inuence over purchase decisions that brand-created content does.Social media oers an opportunity for a brand or product to get into the conversation that consumers are having. e audience is growing: 75% of the US population is active on the internet and usage spans ages. Across all age groups (13-75+) 35% of the online population uses social networking, 81% research products and 32% rate a person or product online.Social media is interactive and immediate so required is a social media strategy of both talking and listening. It can support sales by providing a brand or product a platform to engage in dialogue and more authentic than the one-way voice of advertising or press releases. A tweet, blog post, podcast or video that brings the process and thinking behind the making or enjoyment of a product to an audience is information that adds value to the consumers' understanding and perception of the brand.More importantly, a social media program enables a brand to engage in a give-and-take discussion with consumers - information and conversation ow two ways.It is not a stand-alone outreach program but works in tandem with other marketing eorts, building on conversations that consumers are already having about brands and products to create a program of engagement marketing that is grounded in authenticity, transparency, sharing and listening. KNGDESIGN787 Del Ganado RoadSan Rafael CA 94903 415.721.0525 Twitter:@kungdesign Posterous: email: 4. 4 What is Social Media? Should I Care? Landlord, may your lies malign bring destruction on your head!You yourself drink unmixed wine, water sell your guests instead.--gratti on the wall of a tavern in PompeiiConsumers have had opinions about the products they buy for millennia, and eager to share their opinions for just as long.But opinion distribution and audience scope were limited by geographic, nancial or political constraints. ere were few options for sharing opinions beyond vetted comments published by existing outlets ('Letter to the Editor') or privately created opinion pieces ("Common Sense").Ease of creating and distributing personal opinions to a wide audience has changed (thanks, World Wide Web!) and has given consumers a platform, and in some cases, a's what Social Media is: it's user-created content that shares ideas and opinions with an online audience. It's not a fad - consumers are driving brand perception via In a study, 60% of consumers trusted online consumer reviews online tools that have democratized the and opinions. An average of just one-third trusted company- ability to inuence and shape opinions created ads and direct mail. Consumer-created content has about products and brands. nearly twice the inuence over purchase decisions that brand- created content does. Why does this matter to you, your brand and your product or service?KNGDESIGN 787 Del Ganado RoadSan Rafael CA 94903 415.721.0525 Twitter:@kungdesign Posterous: email: 5. 5Your Brand - It's Not Just YoursA brand is the story that's told about it, from product to customer experience to reputation, and that story is only partly dened by the company who holds the trademark and makes the goods. Also shaping the story are consumers who buy, love (or don't), and talk about a brand, dening it via online tools that have democratized the ability to inuence opinions and purchase decisions.Eective social media encourages conversations about a brand among ALL the people who have a stake in a brand and share in its success. Success is what drives these conversations: the company wants its brands and products to thrive with increased sales and enhanced reputation.Consumers have a stake in this too: they don't want a trusted brand or product to go away. Or they do - if they have a problem with a brand or product, passion to see it change or fail is a powerful motivation to communicate. Motrin saw the impact of negative consumer opinion on an ad it ran in 2008 as a Twitter-fed backlash resulted in the ad pulled and an apology from the brand to angry 'Motrin Moms'.Consumers are increasingly engaged in conversations online, and companies can't control it, stop it or edit it. What they can do is embrace it, and make active engagement a central part of the marketing plan.Conversation, Back by Popular DemandConversation is, by denition, two-way. You talk, I listen, then I talk and you listen. It is an exchange of ideas, opinions and information that is generous and intimate. It is not one-way with a controlled message, like advertising. Once thought a lost art, conversation is becoming a dening online activity.But one-person-at-a-time conversation is time-consuming, and why social media tools are so powerful. ey enable 'mass intimacy': one-to-one speaking in a one-to-many environment. And just because you are not leading the conversation doesnt mean there isnt an active conversation about it. e second most popular page on Facebook is Coca Cola and Coke didnt start it - fans did.Consumers are passionate about what they love (and hate), and have multiple forums to both praise and bash a brand - charm them or disappoint them, there is a public forum for their opinions to be stated.To see an example of unltered (that is, real consumer) comments about wine, go to for a wine you know. You'll see genuine feedback from the people at the front line of who denes a brand - the people who use it. eyve started the conversation but it's not to late for you to join in. KNGDESIGN 787 Del Ganado RoadSan Rafael CA 94903 415.721.0525 www.kungdesign.comTwitter:@kungdesign Posterous: email: 6. 6Where Do Conversations Happen?Conversation isn't just face-to-face discussion. Each component of your brand and product, in both physical and digital channels, is busy communicating an aspect of your brand.ere are two primary channels, and we've listed typical communication tools within those channels. What's important to note is that while the tools of the physical channel are almost exclusively the arena of a brand owner due to the cost of distribution of messages, digital channels are equally available to both brand owners and consumers.When we say that conversation and communication are democratized, this is what we mean. ere are far more tools available for use in the digital world than in the physical, and more are constantly being developed and adopted. What's more, many are free and so widely used by consumers.Conversations are initiated and responses made instantly, along newly-formed online demographic lines that do not conform to current demographic groups. e inuence on purchase decision from peer-to- peer conversations is stronger than from brand-created is not an exhaustive list, but examples of popular tools and methods in both channels. PHYSICAL CHANNELSDIGITAL CHANNELS Primarily brand-created contentBrand and consumer-created contentStores, officesWeb site, e-commerce Graphic Identity Email Products Banner ads PackagingVideo sharing: YouTube, Vimeo Ads: print - radio - TVImage sharing: Flickr, SmugMug Direct: mail - phone Social Network: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin Sales support: POS, displays Opinion: Yelp, TripAdvisor Events Blogs Personnel (sales, customer service)PodcastsForumsAudio: AudioBoo,,Virtual worlds: Second Life, ActiveWorldsRSSSMS KNGDESIGN 787 Del Ganado RoadSan RafaelCA 94903 415.721.0525 www.kungdesign.comTwitter:@kungdesign Posterous: email: 7. 7Who Should Talk? (Hint: it's not an intern)e person with whom you have personal contact when you go to McDonald's is the person who takes your order. Apart from actually eating the food, this encounter is the most intimate you'll have with the brand. Your perception of the global behemoth that is McDonald's can be shaped by that encounter. If you have good experience, you'll feel positive about the brand. But a bad experience can change that.So your most immediate and intimate contact with the brand will be with a person in the organization who is among the most junior and least familiar with company vision and purpose.Wow.Dont make the most junior, least informed, or newly hired person the one responsible for conversing about your brand. is person will help shape opinion about the integrity of your brand and product: this is NOT a job for an intern. Find the people in your organization that are the most passionate and most knowledgeable about the products, and give them the power to engage. ese should be the voices of your brand - and it's OK to have more than one, giving your brand a layered but consistent voice.What you think is most interesting about your brand might not be what consumers want to hear, and your marketing department, while skilled at developing and broadcasting messages, might not be the only passionate voices you've got.Remember - it's not about you: it's about what you represent to consumers. ey may have multiple lines of interest in your brand, and the deeper, richer and more comprehensive your brand's story, the more engaging it is to your audience.Social media oers an opportunity for the highest-value people in the organization to reach out directly to consumers and converse with them. However, the voice you value highly may not be the same one consumers value: dont assume its the about what information and whose perspective is of value to your consumers. If you collect customer feedback, read their emails, conduct surveys or log customer service requests you already have data about what is of real value to your customers and fans.Using a winery as an example, the high-value voice might be the winemaker, tasting room manager or wine club manager - and it might be all of them. It depends on your audience and what is important to say about your brand in a way that can be told most authentically with social media tools.It's worth repeating: don't make this the job of and intern, or even an agency. People know when a message is not authentic (read the book 'Blink'?) and fake messaging is possibly more damaging than not talking at all. If you can't talk authentically yet, you should not talk, but you can listen. KNGDESIGN 787 Del Ganado RoadSan Rafael CA 94903 415.721.0525 www.kungdesign.comTwitter:@kungdesign Posterous: email: 8. 8 Hey, Listen! A listening strategy is based on nding what people are really saying about your and your brand, because they are talking, even if you're not listening yet. Discovering a dierence between what you think your brand or product is known for with what people are really saying adds a dimension of awareness to your own understanding of your brand, and will help form the structure of a social media program.Listening is an important part of conversation and what people are saying about you--and your competitors--will help direct you to areas where you can most meaningfully converse.Interestingly, a lack of conversation about a brand is an important indicator of its relevance to consumers: as GM's sales have slid, so have online searches for GM brands over the last three years, even with GM's annual advertising budget of over 3 billion dollars.A listening strategy is a key part of a successful social media program: a basic Google search is an example of a starting point. ere are free and paid listening tools, but using these is not a one-time audit - it's an ongoing ear to the ground.A listening strategy continues to evolve once you've joined the conversation too - the specic mix of tools and venues depends on where your consumers are and how you're engaging them.But listening is part of the process, and critical to maintaining the conversation with consumers. KNGDESIGN 787 Del Ganado RoadSan Rafael CA 94903 415.721.0525 www.kungdesign.comTwitter:@kungdesign Posterous: email: 9. 9Google Loves Action With 66% of the US search market, Google and its algorithms dene search engine optimization and is the current standard for how web page, web site and online presence are gauged. As Google continues to rene its search tools and adds functionality and personalization to the search process, brands and products must work harder to retain a strong presence in search.Google oers the ability to lter search results by recency, showing results only from the last 24 hours, or the last week. More search lters allow users to search videos, reviews, and there is even the Wonder Wheel. To see these in action, perform a Google search on your brand, and then select 'show options' at the top le.What this means to you is that if your online conversation is limited to a web site that gets updated periodically, and an occasional press release, you stand a greater chance of being missed in a search that is ltered by recency. And if consumers are writing about your brand or product, those comments will supersede your carefully craed words on a results does not mean that a social media program should be implemented just to bump search results. Search engine optimization processes are an important but separate exercise from social media. You should join in the conversation, not for the page rank results but so that you can engage in dialogue with your customers and add your perspective on your brand to the conversation. Frequent engagement with consumers will make your brand more visible and your v...


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