Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | 6 min read
Big companies have a problem. The tools and tactics that have been the traditional cornerstones of brand building don’t work the way they used to. In a world of hyper-connected, empowered customers, brands have to emphasize a new approach to brand building – but what’s the key to that approach?
The answer: a consistent, holistic customer experience.
As a brand, your image is the sum total of the experiences a customer has with your company. Before the advent of digital, social, and mobile, there weren’t that many places where consumers interacted with brands.
But what happens when your brand has tens of thousands of mentions a week in social media, publishes dozens of mobile applications every year, retargets ads across thousands of sites, and constantly interacts with highly connected and well-informed communities of potential customers?
For companies with valuable brand equity that has been carefully constructed through traditional media over decades, it can be chaotic. The complexity of ensuring consistency in customers’ experiences has significantly increased.
“As a brand, your image is the sum total of the experiences a customer has with your company.”
While Edelman, my employer, is a family company, it’s also the world’s largest PR agency, with thousands of employees and a valuable brand. Like any enterprise, our attitude toward social has evolved a lot over the years. We’ve worked hard to master the skills required and have learned a lot along the way. In fact, one of the reasons I originally joined was seeing some of the early mistakes as social media emerged as a viable communications vehicle.
Here are some of my takeaways from over the years:
While social media activities may begin organically, it’s just not sustainable to continue in this way as you achieve scale. Like it or not, process is important. We work with our clients to design and implement processes that enable them to manage social media at the kind of scale that drives business results, while maintaining flexibility to react in a real-time environment.
Social media is constantly evolving, and the skill set required to operate effectively is getting more diverse all the time. Gone are the days when it was as easy as hiring a community manager who could do it all (not that it was ever that easy to be a community manager).
Over the last few years, we’ve added entirely new skill sets to the team to operate effectively in social channels. Social media teams still revolve around community managers, but also incorporate creatives (writers, designers, video production whizzes), paid media specialists, analysts, trendspotters, and strategists alongside that core role. That has meant adding new skills across the board as the industry continues to evolve.
It’s natural to focus on the latest trends. Indeed, over the years we have experimented and learned on our own channels. With that said, don’t forget to think about the big picture. Consider the following examples:
This is going to be a year of change in social media. The big platforms have matured, and marketers are going to continue to see demands for social media activities that have become more sophisticated as well.
Here are five key trends we can expect to see in 2015:
We are in the middle of a pivotal time for large enterprises. Brands are finally learning the value of embracing social as an opportunity to connect with their biggest fans.
It’s a return to the earliest promise of what social could do for big brands: help them build relationships at scale. Brands are now a compilation of conversations and discussions: the voice of your customer.
It’s time to listen to that voice and have a hand in those discussions.
About the Author: With over a decade of communications and digital marketing experience, Dave Fleet leads a 40-person digital team in Edelman’s Toronto and Montreal offices. Dave is responsible for developing digital and integrated communications strategies for brands across technology, health, corporate, consumer, and public affairs sectors
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