Owning the Brand. Employees & Customers – Going Social Now

n fact, at the recent Social Media Advertising Consortium Social Media Salon that we hosted in the Razorfish offices, it was a key theme too. Pauline from IBM put it nicely when she said that social media is becoming like the telephone. Every department and every person needs it. Imagine if only the marketing department had telephones. How absurd that would be!

The conversations reminded me of the above slide that was part of a presentation that I gave to a Fortune 20 company CMO two years ago. I used it to explain the fact that every employee is an interface to the customer and companies need to think about them as untapped assets to leverage. Her organization had well over 100,000 employees so explaining that each employee has an influence network of at least 20 people translating into a circle of 2 million people really resonated with her. In that moment she got social influence marketing.

As we move through 2010 and figure out how to leverage this hidden asset, the question is how do you manage your brand in a world where employees can (and I believe should) be your brand advocates. Is this even possible? Does it run the risk of doing more damage to your brand than you can handle? I don’t think it does and nor do retail brands like Best Buy and Starbucks. Both are brands that I discuss in my book as ones that are leading the way with the creation of social voices – real people that speak authentically on behalf of the brand. Developing social voices has had another wonderful unintended consequence – the brands themselves have become social at the core or as I refer to them, they’ve become social brands. 

So what’s next? More companies in more industries are going to need to open up their brands to their employees and their external advocates. To let them share control of the brand. An industry where I believe we’re going to see the next big move – hospitality. The industry is inherently about customer relationships. Every employee in a hotel chain for example, is going to need to be the social voices for the brand. The question is which hotel chain will be the first to do this?

Shiv Singh of Razorfish talks about an area I had blogged about earlier at http://www.gautamblogs.com/2009/09/employees-are-new-media.html

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About Gautam

Gautam is a HR professional interested in how emerging technologies are impacting work, careers and organizations.

Posted on April 13, 2010, in blogging. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Owning the Brand. Employees & Customers – Going Social Now.

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