It Pays to Discover: Managing Issues to Regain Lost Trust

Posted on April 14, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , |

We’ve just released a new ebook: “Analyze & Discover: Measuring the Effect of Digital Opportunities on Reputation & Brand Equity.” The ebook offers insight into the process, metrics, and tools that can help you identify opportunities and manage risk effectively. Here’s an excerpt:

The first step in managing risk is to assess the maturity level of each issue. After all, with a constantly expanding universe of risks in social media, no one organization could (or should) react to every issue that crosses their transom. Rather, executives must categorize issues/risks according to how real of a threat they are to the brand, reputation, and bottom line. Common categories include:

• Latent: Comments by/conversations among non-influencers that are untrue, insignificant, unsubstantiated, and/or unconnected. These issues should be watched passively and are not likely to become critical.
• Emerging: Comments by/conversations among influencers and non-influencers alike that contain potentially damaging themes, but that have not yet reached critical mass. These claims, while not always entirely true, have an element of credibility that is cause for concern, and should therefore be watched actively.
• Critical: Comments by/conversations among influencers that have a consistent theme, present credible evidence, and/or express legitimate concerns. These issues have the highest potential of becoming full-blown crises and should therefore be addressed immediately.

To fully understand the role discovery plays in the new social media process, consider the financial industry’s experiences with online platforms. The effects of widespread malfeasance and a massive economic downturn have obliterated consumers’ trust in financial institutions, forcing many of them to begin rebuilding relationships with their stakeholders in the most unlikely places: social media platforms.

Social media has certainly given consumers amply opportunities to voice their discontent with financial institutions, and these companies are just beginning to engage in online conversations to rebuild the brand equity that had been demolished by a coalescence of factors. That’s not to say adoption is widespread: According to Wetpaint and Altimeter Group’s July 2009 “ENGAGEMENTdb” report, the financial industry is one of the least engaged in social media. Being hindered by government regulations is certainly a factor, but more and more companies are finding ways to engage and play by the rules at the same time. Among the most “social” financial brands:

Wells Fargo: Manages multiple blogs for different target audiences. One in particular, the Wells Wachovia blog, was launched after Wells Fargo beat out Citigroup for control of Wachovia. It became a resource for joint customers, as well as a place where they could voice concerns about the transition.
H&R Block: One of the first financial brands to begin leveraging Twitter as a customer service tool, first by monitoring the platform for issues and then responding directly to the individuals who had expressed concerns/frustrations.
Citi Cards: Leveraged social media during the launch of its Citi Forward product, specifically intended to help young consumers manage their credit; effort included blogger outreach, a Twitter presence and a YouTube channel.

Download the ebook to learn more about managing issues.

Diane Thieke is Marketing Director at Dow Jones.

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Rules of Engagement: Greater China Social Media Landscape

Posted on March 29, 2011. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Social Media is on everyone’s minds today and has also greatly evolved the current media landscape. Naturally though, the digital divide among communicators is growing: on one hand, there are those that are just starting to do baby steps to navigate through the online space; on the other hand, you have those creating the rules of social media while ‘riding the wave’.

However, this is first and foremost an internal problem. What’s more crucial, and to a certain extent even scary, is that our brands’ employees, customers, and general stakeholders are getting more and more demanding. So how should we deal with growing expectations in a diverse and ever-evolving (social) media landscape?

At a recent interview with Mercy Su for the Digital Media Across Asia Wiki of the Singapore Management University, I had a take at these questions in general and specifically tackled where Greater China and in particular, Hong Kong and Taiwan, are moving in the social media space.

Did you know that though both territories’ social media users are very outspoken, the majority of online comments is still rather positive?

While it might not be a surprise that the main discussions evolve around politics, daily-life, celebrities or brands, it’s important to see how especially mainland China’s social media platform rather significantly grow their influence in the Hong Kong and Taiwan markets.

Lars Voedisch is a media consultant based in Singapore.
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Employees as Brand Ambassadors: Enthusiasm is Infectious

Posted on March 4, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

One of my Twitter followers recently asked me about the pros and cons of allowing employees to act as brand ambassadors in social media channels such as Twitter. Some of her executives were a little uncertain and wanted to know more about how to manage it properly.

A long time ago, I had the same concerns. I headed PR and was not crazy about expanding my limited list of spokespeople to everyone in the company. I think that’s a familiar feeling for PR pros and executives alike.

But, I had a change of heart. So many of our employees were proud of the products they were building and selling. It was hard to see why we should prevent them from sharing their enthusiasm.  Sure they were critical too, but that criticism had a purpose: to make the products better. Ultimately, I decided that their enthusiasm would be infectious.

Today, I don’t think there’s much question about whether there’s a benefit to having employees engaged as brand ambassadors in social media. Rather, the question, as posed by my follower, is more about how to manage it properly.

What if the employee brand ambassador’s personality becomes bigger than the organization?

I don’t have stats on this, so I’m going to go with a gut feel and one anecdote. I don’t think this is a probable scenario for most companies. The only example I can think of is Robert Scoble and Microsoft. While Robert became a brand on his own, I’m pretty comfortable saying that he didn’t really become bigger than Microsoft. He’s widely credited with giving Microsoft a human face during one of its toughest reputation periods. I think that turned out well for Microsoft.

What guidelines should we give employees? Should we restrict them to tweeting about professional stuff only? Should we allow them to share personal stuff too?

Social media is about people first. One reason that people don’t connect with brands is that they are perceived as impersonal. Big faceless corporations are harder to relate to or get emotional about. But all organizations are run by people. Many of them are interesting both in the office and out. I find it much easier to connect with someone who shares my interest in Neil Young’s music and who is passionate about the latest trends in social media. If they have personality, I will follow them. So, yes, let them share both personal and professional stuff.

However, you still want to do as much as you can to ensure that whatever your brand ambassadors share on social media maintains the integrity of your brand. Here are three ways to ensure that they do that:

  1. Have a social media engagement policy and be sure that your code of conduct policy is incorporated.
  2. Keep PR and internal communications tightly aligned. Communicating internally early (before external messages are delivered) and often is critical.
  3. Make it a regular habit to promote your brand internally, building enthusiasm and pride among employees. Reinforce brand attributes, values and personality through employee events, posters, etc.

My follower asked if I could share articles I’d read and liked about employees as brand ambassadors. Here’s a few that I’ve come across over the last year or so. 

Diane Thieke is marketing director for Dow Jones, based in Princeton, NJ.

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Future Proofing PR with Modern Metrics

Posted on January 5, 2011. Filed under: Measurement, Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , |

PR Week recently reported that the job market for PR professionals was rebounding, particularly for senior level positions. This is good news for the profession and job seekers. Looking into the future, what type of skills will senior PR professionals need to succeed in today’s complex communications and business environment?

Martin Murtland, VP and Managing Director, Dow Jones, shared his view with Bulldog Reporter late last month. He sees two skills as being critical: alignment with the business strategy and strong analytical skills. Those with these skills will be “winners” who will drive new metrics designed to measure brand and issues in a much more complicated media landscape.

The article is based on a joint presentation Martin did with Cindy Droog, APR, Senior Public Relations Specialist, at Amway. Their session at PRSA’s International Conference in Washington, DC, looked at new ways to measure brand and reputation, including velocity and advocacy.

Read the Bulldog article and look at both Martin’s and Cindy’s presentations below, and share with us the new metrics you’re discovering.

Diane Thieke is Marketing Director at Dow Jones.

 

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The Social Brand: Do not say what you do, do what you say

Posted on September 16, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Part Two of our interview with Joan Jiménez, a Spanish brand angel and a creative multidisciplinary branding 2.0 consultant.
 

Social media has been presented as the new paradigm of communication between organizations and their customers or users. But some brands are not getting the results they expected with their presence on the Internet. In your opinion, why is there a discrepancy?
 
The gap is due to a lack of awareness of the new reality. The energetic, economic, environmental, communication and social scenes have changed, and we cannot apply the old answers anymore. We need to learn to ask new questions. This new reality requires an open mind to the constant changes we are facing in order to first recognize them and then use them properly. We live in an uncertain world in which everything is connected to everything, in real time.

What is the most fundamental change involved in the new culture of conversation?

The most transcendental change is to understand and accept that from now on, our actions are our communication and therefore management of communication can be effective only with a committed and aligned organization. I believe that no great brand can be managed effectively in this new reality if the company’s leadership team does not accept their role as brand leaders.

10 Tips: How to Optimize Your Brand in Facebook and Twitter

There are companies, institutions, and brands that believe social media is a risk to their reputations and refuse to have any involvement with it. Why do you think it is essential for brands not only to have a presence in this social setting but also to participate actively in this particular social scene?

Social media is not  just a symptom of how little companies have adapted to a new competitive landscape. Social media represents not only an extraordinary instrument of communication and conversation, but also a new place to position your brand and do market research in real time.

Companies must understand that there is a physical reality and a digital reality, which together form a new playing field that is very different to the one we were accustomed to. The first thing managers must do every morning, in the same way they read the newspaper, is to connect with the world, so that they have the information they need to make their decisions. Information is power, you simply need to look and listen to what is happening inside and outside the company and then use this information according to your goals.

How are an identity and a good corporate reputation built and maintained in social media?

 ”Simply” by being aware of and being consistent with our internal and external reality, humanizing the company and aligning what we think with what we say and what we do.

When talking about the ROI of Social Media, you say: “The return on investment you’ve made in the social media is merely the positioning you have achieved for your brand in this new social environment.” Should we stop understanding the ROI of social media in terms of economic benefit?

You cannot ask the impossible. We must learn to be realistic and accept the limitations that we face and flow with them. Social media is a place to build relationships, links, and contacts that can lead to doing business. A good metaphor is to understand social media as an exhibition center. The return on social media cannot be measured in economic or quantitative terms but in qualitative results and in terms of social influence. As I always say, what matters in social media is not counting the kisses you receive but feeling the love you receive.

From your own experience in the social sphere, what do you think are the three basic principles a digital media or online marketing professional should always remember?

– First, branding (being, identity) and then the marketing (selling, market).
– Do not say what you do, do what you say.
– Open your mind and your ego.

Amelia Rodríguez is the Team Leader in the Barcelona Dow Jones Media Lab.

Interview translated by Matthew Stephenson.

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Interview with Joan Jiménez, Brand Angel

Posted on September 15, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Joan Jiménez

This week, we feature a two-part interview with Joan Jiménez, a Spanish brand angel and a creative multidisciplinary branding 2.0 consultant. He is author of several e-books, such as “How to cook your Brand”, “21 positions for making love with your customers”, “Brandland, the fable of the new world” and “Don’t buy me: 40 keys to sell your brand in Social Media”. He is also the creator of Spoonch, “the mark of an attitude.”

 

 
What is a brand angel?

A brand angel is a consultant who acts as a social guardian angel for a brand, bringing vision, strategies and solutions so that a brand can develop consistently in an interconnected, multidirectional and unpredictable world.

A brand angel’s main mission is to connect the internal and external aspects of a brand by contrasting them and providing the customer a new view of reality.

What is social branding?

  • Our brand is what people think of us.
  • What we are, what we do, how we do it, and our goals make up our identity.
  • Identities and brands are made by people.
  • People are the new medium of communication in digital society and people are also trademarks.
  • These personal brands, in the form of users of Facebook, Twitter or other platforms, are also media. They share information, emotions and entertainment with other brands aligned with their identity.
  • An identity link between personal brands is created through conversations, and brands need to enter their message in this new channel to reach their users.
  • Users are becoming less permissive with messages that do not come naturally to their digital social conversation.
  • To enter naturally into the digital social conversation, the brand must generate an organic emotional bond through its identity in a form of conversation with their potential users’ brands.
  • Having a brand does not necessarily mean having a defined emotional identity. In fact, there are many successful commercial brands with no identity and no other mission or values than pure economic benefit.
  • Without emotional identity, it is impossible to generate a lasting bond with our social environment, no matter if we are a commercial or a personal brand, as we are always at risk of being replaced in others’ preferences for other brands with a higher emotional value.
  • Social branding is the discipline that helps personal brands to enhance their standing by managing their identity.
  • Social branding is the discipline that helps commercial brands to manage the engagement with their users through the management of their identity.
  • For users, social branding is the emotional bond with the brand in digital social environments.
  • For managers, social branding is a challenge because it requires that they give more importance to the strategic construction of identity than the tactical pursuit of profitability.

Tomorrow: Part 2 – The Social Brand

Amelia Rodríguez is the Team Leader in the Barcelona Dow Jones Media Lab.

Interview translated by Matthew Stephenson.

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Return on Expertise: Changing Your Measurement Program As Brand Awareness Grows

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Measurement, Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , |

For years, invariably, some presentation at a reputation conference would include a quote from Warren Buffett: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”  I began to think that the next time I saw a Warren Buffett quote in a PowerPoint, I would fake a seizure to get out of sitting through the surely tired, overplayed content.

Until I saw Chris Preuss, Vice President of Global Communications for General Motors, present at the Social Reputation Management Conference in New York yesterday.   The gist of his well-chosen Buffett quote goes something like this: “The value of information will go to zero, because of speed and variety of vehicles through which news travels today.  However, because there is now so much news to absorb, the value of expertise and the ability to interpret that information will go to infinity.”

This got me thinking about my clients over the years, and how relevant this lesson is for organizations trying to structure programs to monitor and measure “the information superhighway.”  Below is a lifecycle framework to illustrate the value of expertise for both nascent and mature brands looking to capture the effects of their PR and social media efforts. 

Lifecycle for developing measurement programs

As more is said about you online, the benefit you get from analysis grows.

So what does this mean for brands and agencies trying to measure the impact of news and social media commentary?  If you’re just starting out, there are a lot of inexpensive and even free tools you can use to start to analyze and interpret information yourself.  If your campaign generated as few as 50 mentions, it may not be worth it to invest in outside counsel.

But as your brand presence increases, your need to bring in experience and expertise grows exponentially.  In economic terms, we’re talking about “increasing marginal returns” – basically, the value you receive from analysis is greater for the next article than it was for the last.  It soon becomes vital to have a team – either third-party, in-house, or both – that focuses on absorbing, interpreting, and reporting on performance in the news and online.  Our most satisfied and engaged clients of PR measurement services from Dow Jones practice this in one of two ways: by designating a “power user” internally to deliver information to the field teams and managers that need it, or by utilizing our team of consultants to regularly deliver reports and analysis that distill news and data into usable intelligence.

For mature brands, the value gained from expertise is high, but the returns start to level off.  You need to start asking questions about the efficiency of your investment: am I leveraging the right technology to supports the experts I’ve employed?  Do I have specialized teams for analysis, or I am still expecting communicators to also be number-crunchers and analysts?  Surprisingly, many large companies cannot state the number of vendors they employ to gather news and information globally; we work with these clients to eliminate redundancies in content, integrate unique feeds, and standardize results.  This helps their investment in intelligence tools go further – which ultimately helps improve ROI.

Jennifer Hoffmann is Manager of Media Consulting at Dow Jones and is based in New York City.

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Using Trust Rather than Volume in Social Media, Part IV

Posted on February 26, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , |

The Resolution

So let’s note that individuals are seeking to fuse themselves to tribes that express parts of their identity, and can do so in incredibly quick, fine-grained and extensive ways. From the perspective of tethering your brand’s value, we can see that broadcasting out from a Facebook page or Twitter feed is far from ideal. Nor should you spend your time seeking to unduly influence credible sources.

Instead, the counter-intuitive “concrete-fluidity” of tribes and clusters of tribes recommends you work hard to understand and identify what an “abstract,” temporary, recurring influencer in a tribe or cluster looks like; the template of what a person with credibility, or a credible presentation, would be like. And then reach out to that sort of person.

It’s not that difficult to do; Using media monitoring software, you can identify A-list, B-list and even long-tail blogs talking about specific issues and products, and monitor them closely to identify the correct targets.

The best way to reach out is to pitch things such a person really might be interested in. (Popular freelance blogger Lindsay Robertson offers some tips on how to do this here.)

High value content for blogs, message boards, Twitter feeds and even Facebook groups and streams filters out of individuals and core groups into larger networks as much or more than it filters the other way. It has to, because messages that tether to the mind come from sources who, though ‘small’ in reach, are trusted as excellent filters.

In contrast, broadcasting your message to high traffic sources who lack credibility, such as a tweet stream, or to those who don’t view you credibly, can only rarely do more than create fleeting true opinions, in one ear, and soon enough, out the other. And as we’re constantly reminded, credibility is and will always be a major issue for social media.

One last thought; the fluidity in tribes allows for the possibility of multiple concurrent or consecutive efforts at tethering to the members of a tribe via credible people. And if a brand becomes established, it not only maintains its position in the tribe, but it increases the chances of being carried over into other tribes and clusters as people move on. Some of these people will not occupy credible-source positions in their new tribes, but others will.

Damien DuPont is a report writer and quality assurance specialist in the Dow Jones Media Lab and is based in New York.

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Using Trust Rather than Volume in Social Media, Part III

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , |

The Contradiction

Outside of “all-in-one” sites like Facebook, there are myriad sites dedicated to pop culture, multimedia, and social and political causes, which allow people to extend their identity in ways and at speeds that would have been impossible to members of ancient tribes. These web sites are the home of credibility, and they must be treated as such. Unfortunately, as Ann Taylor Loft is finding out, it’s inevitable that many of them will be corrupted.

The contradiction underlying these types of sites – that they are the potential customer’s source of credible information on your product, but also highly susceptible to the appearance of corruption, – has an interesting effect on tribes: tribes are much more fluid in membership, yet remain concrete and credible. This is clear from the Ann Taylor case. That brand was likely a member of many tribes, and so many web sites would have been a good fit for its attempts at “tethering.” Instead, the situation has probably led to the discrediting of many sources where these tribes would have gone for information on the brand, and so traffic will move to other sites, some potential customers will be put off and some existing customers may shun the brand. But it’s a safe bet that new sites will step up and service these tribes, and that other brands will fill in the void. And new voices will become credible and so shape how this happens.

Something like this dynamic happens on sites like Netflix, which shows users what is popular where they live, as well as “similarity scores” between their friends and even with complete strangers. It’s interesting to see novelty and disagreement among people in your core group, but it’s also sometimes exciting to find that a complete stranger so closely matches one’s tastes. Both cases allow for enjoyable discoveries of actors, directors and genres, which can contribute to the growth and to the fracture of a tribe. This exemplifies how credibility, tethering, and the fluidity of tribes work together.

Come back Friday for the final installment: The Resolution.

Damien DuPont is a report writer and quality assurance specialist in the Dow Jones Media Lab and is based in New York.

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Using Trust Rather than Volume in Social Media, Part II

Posted on February 23, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , |

Tethering and Tribal Differences

Let’s imagine the potential customer as a tree comprised of three rings radiating outward 1) their core; close friends, family and the activities and brands they identify themselves with and are strongly tethered to, 2) extended networks of acquaintances and their interests, such as exist on Facebook or LinkedIn, which provide on occasion some interesting new item or experience, 3) strangers, brands and activities that exist on the periphery; things they may have seen or heard of in passing but paid no attention to.

If we can understand these areas, we can make it to our advantage rather than disadvantage that the inner circle is hardest to access and the outer circle is least trusted but a source of personal expansion. Then we can turn to understanding credibility.

A popular and useful way to look at the situation is to think of people as using the web to join and establish groups analogous to traditional tribes. According to RAND theorist David Ronfeldt, these initial groups created and legitimized identity and fostered a sense of belonging, and did not admit of hierarchical leadership. This maps very well onto what we’ve just sketched and will help understand the issue of credibility.

For the average consumer, establishing their internet presence and locating their core friends, family, activities and brands is very simple. It does not take long to find blogs, message boards, media outlets and even beloved brands on the web.

Core-building was the original attraction behind Facebook, what put it over MySpace; on Facebook you could establish and solidify your core, and simultaneously connect to and have some distance from your extended network. MySpace was simply too open, exposing your core tribes to the world of strangers, a world you almost always want nothing to do with, with a very low payoff.

Facebook is now working to put a person’s core tribe and their extended network of tribes as close as possible, and pull the world of strangers into this structure as well. It remains to be seen if this will work, but I sincerely doubt it. It’s simply more likely that it will turn into a much better done MySpace, which will turn off many users, than it is that it will get 300 million profitable consumers to bare their souls to the world.

Come back on Thursday for Part III: The Contradiction.

Damien DuPont is a report writer and quality assurance specialist in the Dow Jones Media Lab and is based in New York.

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