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“Your brand is what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room”
I’m not sure who coined that phrase but it’s a cracker. Daniel Rowse wrote a great blog on ProBlogger about branding for your own blog and it got me thinking about Business Brands.
So, what are people saying about your brand? Do you even know?? I’ve asked a few business owners this question. One replied – “We don’t really have a brand, we just sell carpets”. Well, let’s have a look at that first…
A brand emerges over time whether a business actively works towards it or not, and whether that business wants it or not! Your customers and potential customers begin to develop perceptions about your service or product, and what your company stands for, in many instances, sub-consciously. Social Media networks provide an immediate platform for your customers’ opinions, thoughts and experiences. And we can all access our social networks wherever we are now, courtesy of the technological leaps in mobile devices. So, we’re in a restaurant having a great meal – we might Tweet that… We’re in a carpet shop and the service is terrible – we might Tweet that as well, or comment on our Facebook wall – and it’s out there, for millions of people to see. One tiny ingredient in the recipe that will become your Brand.
There are 300,000+ businesses on Facebook, and half a million new users every day. Twitter is on target for 1 billion users by 2012. As social media users grow exponentially (that’s your customer base we’re talking about – B2C and B2B), it’s clear that, whether you are engaging with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn et al, as a business or not, things will be said about your company. The important thing is to listen – and to do that, you need to be there in the room!
People will make up their own minds about who you are and what your company stands for – but you do have some ability to help them come to these conclusions. As they use your product or service, as they hear how others feel about you by reading online reviews and Tweets, and as they then engage with others, sharing their own thoughts and experiences of your business, your brand is being built. If you are listening to these conversations and taking part – with relevant contributions and helping out with answers to questions – you are in a strong position not only to manage and enhance your reputation, but also to respond positively in the way you take your business to the market in the future. Let’s say you are listening to your competitors’ customers for instance, perhaps by following them on Twitter, perhaps by monitoring comments on Facebook pages, and you hear that there is a specific problem to which you can actually provide a solution – you are in a position to take action. That’s responsiveness, and the immediacy of this interaction and feedback beats any Focus Group or Market Research by a long shot, doesn’t it?? Let’s face it, if you’re not listening, you may never know it was said in the first place, and that includes complaints and derogatory comments as well as praise!
So, for brand enhancement alone, the ability to build relationships with your customers is key – and for all the hype and buzz around “social media“,  the point, surely, is that it’s the most effective way to do just that – build relationships. By doing that, you will know what they are saying, and they will know you are listening. It’s great customer service and plain business sense.
Please leave your comments below – are there better ways than using the social networks to monitor what your customers think about you?