Who owns the social media side of your brand?

When I ask people, ‘Who owns the social media side of your brand?’ – far too many say something like, the Marketing team, or maybe the C-Suite, or even our Comms people.

But when you think about it, how can that make any sense?

Isn’t it actually everyone in the organisation’s problem?

Years ago I remember a training film called ‘Who Killed the Sale? and chuckled to seem clips of it again on YouTube.  It’s a great case study of what damages a brand.

It’s not price, or one mistake, often – it’s the crappy attitude of the receptionist, it’s the careless dissing of the company at a dinner party where the partner of your potential customer is your neighbour… it’s the day to day activities of members of the team, even outside the 9-to-5, that creates what can be fatally negative impressions of who you are and what you (really) do.

The film also features some outrageous ‘80s big hair and shoulder pads, by the way. You’ll love it!

Anyway, how can this important lesson have been forgotten? How did we end up thinking that the online image we show the world is only the ‘problem’ of some tiny part of one team, and not even really their full time job anyway?

I won’t name names, but my partner, who works for a major global brand, recently confessed when I was researching this blog that he had no idea about what social media stuff his firm did. We checked together, online, and found a wealth of really great stuff, stuff relevant and indeed helpful to his job and his division… that had been completely invisible to him.

Everyone needs to pull together to support the brand these days

It was no biggie to him, but I was pretty shocked, to be honest. So I set about seeing what I could do in an area I knew I could stop some metaphorical sales getting killed – our clients.

I chatted with the leadership team of one of our gorgeous clients. We’ve been doing some very effective social media for them of late. They agreed it would be useful and interesting to check out awareness internally, so we organised a special company webinar, attended by their global employee base, and we set about explaining our social media plan, activities and objectives.

What did we find out? That people were very supportive and enthusiastic about the idea of promoting the brand through as many social channels as possible. Yes there was an education gap but there was also a thirst and desire to be involved and support it. They knew about some things we were doing, but not everything – and they certainly didn’t see how it all connected together; how the blog supports the LinkedIn channel; how Twitter creates customer loyalty and advocacy and drives visitors to the site; and how the media relations work and content we create, bring it all together. For example, we described how much value a case study is to validate the offering, why even a Huffington Post listicle piece can help with traffic, and so on.

The output of the process has been very effective; the result is what we’re calling the Social Media Employee Advocacy programme, where staff are now much more part of the mission here. For example, they’re already coming back in with some great news items they see for our news-led service, they’re recommending people to follow and converse with on Twitter, they’re completing and taking pride in their LinkedIn accounts and they’re really engaging on Twitter liking, retweeting and following.

The lesson for me out of this is simple. Advocacy and employee buy-in is essential if you want to have a credible, living, organic online face to the world in our digital age. And not doing so? well… it’s just another way of killing the sale – and who wants to do that?

It’d be worse than having an ‘80s feather cut, right?

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Founder of Digital PR & Brand Journalism agency, Sarum

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