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Sneak Peak: Digital Brand Marketing 411: Educate, Embrace, Brand

So, the internet is flooded with 101 courses, be it Social Media 101, SEO 101, Digital 101, SEM 101 and so on. The shocking part is that we are well beyond Freshman year, perhaps now it’s time for an advanced course.

This is a book in progress and the purpose of this post is to get feedback and support from fellow professionals who will have the chance to help shape its final publication.

Educate, Embrace, Brand

If training programs are a natural part of any induction to new employment, then should we not use this time to maximize the experience both professionally and personally?

Imagine a company that spends time introducing its new employees to Social Media during the training, helps them set up accounts, teaches them etiquette and the role that each different social media has both in personal and professional communication, even if it is at the most basic level.

That same company now embraces its new employees, like a press release, announcing their employment on the company’s Facebook page, twitter accounts, foursquare and more. At stage one, the companies’ own Social Media, has just gone viral with opportunity that has yet to be realized by corporations.

Educating and supporting an employee’s personal brand with the company would touch every contact that the employee has on a regular basis (i.e. profile pictures that resemble something like a baseball card with the team name, or in this case, the company name). The natural progression of Social Media would give the brand a reach and repetition beyond traditional marketing campaigns (This is not even considering the value for professional outreach to clients, service providers and more).

Features, Benefits & Pitfalls

“This section will be the core of the book”

Why?

The ability to control your brand has been lost for some time.  The introduction of reviews, facebook, twitter and more have shifted the spectrum. The current chain of command climate, has corporations and their brands operating as spectators or participants at best.

Your employees are already doing it! A claim like “When John/Joan made that racist, sexist, ageist, etc. etc. comment on facebook, it was not endorsed or supported by [insert company name]”. That’s a PR nightmare, because we all know s/he works for you and now your associated with the people you surround yourself with, or in this case employ.

Already employees are engaging or starting to engage in social media.  In most cases, the biggest threats come from those that will not let you into their social network.  Social Media demands a proactive approach or a great damage control team and understanding stockholders. The best way to understand what your employees are doing on social media is to be an active participant and take a stake in it.

The Coca-Cola Example:

In 2006, The Coca-Cola Company stated that 71,000 people worked for that company.  Imagine what that means in the way of networks if Coca-Cola Educated, Embraced and Branded their people!

If each employee averaged a modest 100 unique Facebook Friends, that’s a reach of 7,100,000 people that will directly see the company name, product or message at least once, if not on a repetitive basis. Take a minimal assumption that 10% of them may do something that others find worthy of sharing in their networks just once in a month and you just doubled your direct impact to a whopping 14 million direct touches with your brand, product or message.  That’s 14 Million a month based on just one touch. We are more than likely talking about a more realistic value of about 30 Million at least once and most of them more than once. How much would you spend to reach 30 Million people? Remembering you have to do it with someone they know and possibly trust or value.

The influence for the book:

Social Media has transformed the way we do business, “This is a massive socio-economic shift that is fundamentally changing the way consumers and companies communicate and interact with each other”, Erik Qualman (Socialnomics, 2010).

Is this True?

I believe that Erik Qualman is correct. However, what most are missing is that we are still stuck in the entry level courses or just fulfilling our general education requirements and the time to be undecided is at an end.

Companies continue to adjust to the trend that Social Media dictates on how consumers spend. Their reactive state has paralyzed them, and no one has taken a moment to stop, think and produce a proactive campaign or policy.

Social Media 101 was the introduction of Away Messages, Chat rooms and Buddy lists. Social Media in the 200’s was all about the personal networks we build.  Whereas, Social Media 300’s have been a consistent battle to generate ROI for business and balance the separation of personal and professional.

Social Media in the 400’s (Senior Year) will be the race towards the podium. The first to Educate, Embrace and Brand will be the Valedictorian. This senior year has some big potential leaders that are laying the ground work. However,  there’s not a single corporation in that list!

The Preview

This is a part of the conceptual work of my book that will be released in 2011. This post is to introduce the concept and ideas of the power behind Social Media that has yet to be realized by corporations. I specifically target corporations because small business owners all across America are already transitioning into this next stage.  Stating “separation” as the key to a business or professional image is proving everyday in small business to be false.

The Naysayers

Some will be quick to jump at the hesitation of individuals to cross the personal and professional barrier, as much as, the companies they work for. However, social media has already crossed those barriers. For those that wish to continue to try and separate the two on a continual basis, Mark Zuckerberg has already covered that for them. That is why education is the first step in this process. There is no one way to accomplish this goal.  Like fire, we can get burned, but without embracing fire we would be hard pressed to stay warm or protected. Companies, Businesses and Organizations are made of people and now more than ever its harder to hide who we, or they are, it’s just a matter of time.

Sources:

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Comments

  1. I read your CocaCola example several times. While the idea is amazing – that 71k employees with about 100 friends each could help get branded messaging in front of a lot of people – it also raises questions about transparency/trust. Most consumers mention brands on social media because they actually like the products or services. Those messages are trusted because they are the real opinions of consumers – not paid messaging. Having employees post messaging on Facebook/Twitter about their employer is – in my opinion – the same as paid messaging.

    If I worked for CocaCola and I told you that CocaCola was amazing, would you really believe me? If I posted a link to a YouTube video on Facebook, would you think I posted it because I really liked it? Don’t take this as negative…your post does have many interesting points and ideas and I would be curious to know more about your ideas on this.

    • Nathan, you are 99% right, this is where education and strategy come into play. The Social Media branding is not a active message but a brand impression.

      Think of it like a shirt, it’s something we are using as a passive marketing tool, in some cases people already have the place they work on Social Media sites like facebook, of LinkedIn their network likely knows who they have worked for and how long.

      The process also supports a reduction in risk as the investment into employees on how to use Social Media.

      I am also presenting Social Media as a form of communication, it has value in PR, HR, Sales and more. Just as mailings, phone numbers and email did before, this is a tool.

  2. Thanks for clarifying. Definitely agree that education is the first step in the process. I’ve always felt that once someone lists their employer on their personal profile, they are representing that employer on that social network.

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