Social Media …Creating or Deteriorating Brand Value

Posted by: on Jan 25, 2013 | No Comments

Greater economic turmoil over the past couple of years has led to a great deal of workforce attrition, and thus a significant loss of knowledge and corporate history for the company. Strong brands make a significant investment in brand standards implemented across their enterprises and suppliers, and take time to continuously measure brand consistency against their guidelines. Too often, when staffing cuts run deep, inadequately trained or inexperienced personnel are tasked with seemingly simple functions (i.e., send out a sales letter), through which the brand message is inadvertently eroded due to lack of clarity, incorrect emphasis, or lack of adherence to brand concept and content. Assigning the right talent to the right function continues to be essential for ongoing success.

Successful brands balance the need for brand consistency with the need for budget efficiency to create their advantage. They have invested not only in the conceptual requirements of brand management, but also in infrastructure and operational requirements for asset management, on-demand systems, global print management, and online solutions where expectations are continuously defined and aligned with evolving measurements.

The threat of brand deterioration exists in all media, but nowhere has it been subject to greater volatility than in the Social Media channels. This is, in part, due to corporate-wide edicts of broad-based employee participation in communications (without the necessary skills or instruction).   It’s also due in very large part to the combined voice of customers and competitors shaping the brand message through the very act of participating in dialog. While most marketers will take the high road in product/service promotion, there is now a vibrant counterculture of aggressive black-label marketing practices that are seemingly rogue, antagonistic ‘voices’ dedicated to damaging reputations of brands for competitive advantage. Ignoring these voices in a public and SEO-weighted forum is akin to promoting brand attrition by simply wearing blinders and earmuffs.

Listen to Your Customers. . .online

With the advent of Social Media, brands now have an enhanced opportunity to learn what their industry, customers and their competitor’s customers are saying. Marketing dollars have shifted away from some traditional media channels to allow for constant monitoring and filtering of keywords and conversations online. With open architecture software integration (APIs), new marketing software is released (almost daily it seems) dedicated to measuring and managing the publication, tone, emotional context, noise and volume of Social Media. The very act of exploring and reviewing the new software for features and pricing has added to the marketing and IT burden.

The growth and enhancement of online marketing channels has unprecedented potential for viral marketing, the magic component necessary to rapidly trigger customer passion and exponential brand relevancy across a wide audience without geographic constraints. With Social Media still new and evolving, measurement of brand impact and brand retention has posed new opportunities and challenges, subsequently creating a demand for metrics that matter. Adding volumes to the budget, companies have had to decide on new customer service metrics for appropriate response to dissenting voices. While the uninitiated will deal with situations as they emerge, savvy CSR solution providers are measuring the impact, reach and severity of each message and its damage potential.

Measure What Matters

In spite of the compelling discussion of brand valuation that defines today’s most profitable and successful brands, the emphasis to measure success for online and Social Media endeavors often focuses on the literal metrics of shopping cart conversion. This is a mistake.  Too often, measurements of success such as content resonance, brand sharing, amount of content creation and engagement are downplayed against the importance of the bottom line.  However, when we look back at the intangible value of the brand, the true value of Social Media has an opportunity to catapult corporate value by creating brands that carry even greater clarity and resonance with their audiences.  Attention must be paid to the customer attrition that could result from negative perceptions of the brand fueled by Social Media.