The social brand conversation and the ABC of connecting

by Dr Chris Baumann and Iggy Pintado

 

The CEO and Twitter

Recently, we came across this story of a CEO of a large bank, who, when visiting one of their contact centres, was asked to monitor the bank’s Twitter handle and to publicly respond – as the CEO – to tweets addressed to the bank. The tweets were a mix of comments, some positive and others ranging from small issues to complaints and rants. The CEO lasted five minutes, leaving the room stating that he was “out of his depth” in this space.

When asked why he could not cope, he replied by saying that he was comfortable speaking to people one on one about any subject relating to their dealings with the bank. He was also formally trained in public speaking so he could speak to many people in a mass audience situation.

What he had difficulty with was replying at an individual level at the same time that a mass audience was listening, judging and ready to respond. Herein lies the challenge with the ‘social brand conversation’, a term we have coined. Organisations now need to consider their attitude, behaviour and context towards the conversations they have in the social space to best manage their brand presence.

Attitude, behaviour and context – the ABC of connecting

Connecting on social media has the potential to magnify your brand presence. It is essential that messages communicated using the social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are considered and protective, if not enhancing, of brand value. Therefore, an organisation must understand their attitude and behaviour towards social connection. A brand who is strategically prepared to have both the standard and the ‘tough’ conversations in a public forum is best positioned to develop greater trust and integrity with both their current and potential stakeholders. Such an attitude of being open, sincere and truthful complements brand values and perceptions, and will subsequently trigger effective behaviour.

In saying this, this attitude must be reflective of the organisation’s values and behaviour in the brand presentation across all social conversations. While the strategic intent may be there, the brand experience should be consistent across all social brand interactions with the brand’s audience, both offline and online, and both using traditional marketing channels and the new social media landscape. There are an increasing number of case studies of organisations setting up social media presences with the best intentions, only to fail when a situation requiring them to ‘step up’ to an issue is flawed by an inconsistency with their stated brand values and positioning strategy. As a practical guide we have developed the following ‘social brand conversation’ model:

Social brand conversation model

In a world drowning in content, ultimately context is king. Organisations need to understand and manage interactions relative to their brand and the market’s consumer segments, geographic regions, product and service categories they choose to serve. There are numerous social tools for monitoring brand mentions and sentiment. Organisations need to not only listen and respond appropriately to what people are saying about their brand but they also need to listen for relevant opportunities to develop more business in their chosen markets by engaging customers and prospects on platforms they choose to interact in.

The challenge

How is your brand managing its interactions with the public? Does it have the right attitude, behaviour and context that reflect your brand values, your brand personality? Is it maximising your social brand conversations?

 

About the authors:
Dr Chris Baumann is a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney. His research includes customer loyalty, competitiveness in education and society, ethnic marketing, and East Asia (China and Korea). He has been appointed as a visiting professor at Seoul National University in South Korea and at Aarhus University in Denmark. Iggy Pintado is director, marketing and innovation at UXC Connect. His book, Connection Generation, is a study of how connectedness affects our place in society and business and the challenges and opportunities this compelling development presents. He also does a regular podcast called The Social Business with Annalisa Holmes.

Chris Baumann
BY Chris Baumann ON 30 August 2012
Dr Chris Baumann is a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His research includes customer loyalty, competitiveness in education and society, ethnic marketing, and East Asia (China and Korea). He is a visiting professor at Seoul National University in South Korea and at Aarhus University in Denmark.
(Photo: Paul Wright)