We said in our last blog that few things in business are as misunderstood as branding, but one of those is probably social media. Even today, with countless social media triumphs in terms of development of corporate preference to point to, many company executives still cut the social media budget first and technical staff scoff at its significance. So let’s talk about it.
We said in the branding blog that a brand is owned by the customer and is made up of the thoughts, feelings and expectations each customer has with regard to a given company or entity. Positive thoughts, feelings and expectations lead to brand preference – and that glorious day when a customer says, “I always buy (insert your company here).”
How does that day arrive? How do positive thoughts, feelings and expectations get developed? Through interaction between the brand developer (you) and the brand owner (the customer). These interactions are built upon customer experience with your product – BUT, what happens before they buy? That’s where communication comes in. Every touch you have with a prospect either directly or indirectly develops expectations. This might be reviews, training, word of mouth, advertising, corporate generosity, thought leadership, and lots more.
But the things a prospective customer will remember best are those that touch them personally. This might be sharing a fundamental commitment, a funny story you both enjoy, a mutual love of baseball and most of all, a question answered or some direct help. This is, of course, where social media comes in. There is no medium more conducive to interaction than social media – even face-to-face because across the desk (if you can even get there) customers may not tell the truth. Social media lets people reach you, complain, yell, praise, question, confront and generally interact in unforgettable ways. Even clicking LIKE is more personal than hitting mute on a passing TV commercial.
The fact is, people remember what they interact with. They even tend to recall what other people interact with. For some people who are not yet customers or in remote places in the world, social media may be the only way they can interact with you. Social media is personal. Does that mean dog and cat pictures? No, it means chances for personal interaction and interaction is how thoughts, feelings and expectations (i.e., brands), are built.
(Okay, and maybe a couple dog pictures.)