A friend forwarded an article to me called the ‘The Trouble with Brands’ looking at why there’s a huge difference between the way consumers and financial markets valued brands. One of the reasons cited is that because of social media people are inundated with so many brands that the playing field is diluted and consumers are much harder to impress – it takes greater creativity. I can see that. It is a good article, though long, and I’m paraphrasing.
However, I think there’s more to the difference between consumer’s and financial markets’ valuing of brands due to the affects of social media.
How Has Social Media Affected Brand Value?
Social media has changed the landscape and therefore the rules of PR and Marketing so much that, as I’ve heard it phrased by folks like @mikaelsandblom and @thornley around my yacht club entering this new world “you no longer own your brand.”
I think this split in valuing is also occurring because so many people are participating in public dialogues about brands. Most of us use the internet to research before we buy and find thousands of real people’s opinions and feedback. We used to just buy into whatever we were told by advertisers. Now we have much more information available to develop our own opinions. Regarding the discrepancy – perhaps the people behind ‘financial market valuing’ aren’t paying enough attention to the public and or simply using out-moded metrics.
Use it to Your Advantage
So what can brands do to protect or heighten their value with the public? (This also applies to less widely known brands like those in the B2B market). Get out there, get to know what people are saying and what matters to them. There are many stories that show brands who are interacting with their public in an authentic way are more highly thought of and respected. As a start, this means monitoring the internet for any comments on the brand and reacting immediately, especially when there’s a problem – you are more likely to garner support by responding and being open about it. This may also mean inviting dialogue and feedback on your own website without editing out the negative ones (obscene yes, negative no). Address any negatives in the same medium.
The internet moves very fast and there are other stories about brands practically self-destructing by not responding to blog posts and tweets fast enough. Pay attention, get involved.
A lot of the large brands are right in there using Twitter, Facebook, etc to build communities. They cannot control what people say about them but they can certainly make a difference in it. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Develop a Strategy First
For those not up to their elbows yet, remember that all blog posts, tweets, Facebook discussions, etc. initiated by or participated in by anything with your company’s name attached is an extension of your brand just like your printed materials and websites. My advice is to clearly define your brand for all expressions, then develop a strategy specifically for how to approach social media. For example, it would be a really bad reflection on Rapport’s brand – where we’re all about relationship building – if I tweeted complaints about a client.