The Importance of Branding Online

As stated in earlier posts, the purpose of this blog is to outline the most successful ways of implementing social media into a company’s marketing or branding strategy.  In understanding the best practices for doing so, it is relevant to mention the importance of branding online.

In the article Social Media in Branding: Fulfilling a Need, the author discusses 9 goals that must be in the back of one’s head when implementing social media into a strategy.

  1. Build a sense of membership or citizenship with the organization
  2. Encourage the acceptance and communication of brand value
  3. Encourage the audience to engage in dialogue and promote the brand
  4. Help the organization find and maintain a competitive advantage
  5. Inform the vision behind the brand and build differentiation for it
  6. Evaluate whether the brand is being properly communicated to and understood by the audiences
  7. Build positive brand associations
  8. Build the perceived quality of the brand
  9. Build greater awareness of the brand to audiences that it has not yet reached

These goals are essential to the success of a company’s branding strategy and shouldn’t be overlooked.

The author also states how people tend to gravitate towards Facebook and Twitter and other similar social media sites. A company will be left out if they don’t have a presence on these outlets. These sites allow for user feedback and is an inexpensive way to achieve all of the goals outlined above.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Virgin Airlines is a great example of a company branding themselves online and doing it in a way that shows off their company personality and consumer base.

The 3-M Framework

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a clear process companies need to follow to have a successful social media presence. In the article, Social Media and Customer Dialog, the authors explain the 3-M framework. The 3 “M’s” stand for the Megaphone, the Magnet, and the Monitor.

The Megaphone is identified as using social media to promote certain things for a company. For example, a company can promote contests or advertisements via social media. It is important to establish a clear message of intent to your consumers.

The Magnet is identified as engaging in the conversation with consumers. The dialog between company and consumer is where loyalty and trust will be gained. The Magnet can act as a way to receive consumer feedback and readjust a company’s strategy. This will also add legitimacy to onlooking consumers. Customers like to see an interaction between companies and their constituents.

The Monitor is identified as a way to keep an eye on what consumers are saying to each other about the company. It is always smart to know what your customers are saying about you to each other.

Once a company has implemented this 3-M Framework, things will run very smoothly. As Stephanie has stated below, Starbucks has become a company with a very successful social media presence. They have created their own company run social media site called MyStarbucks Idea. This site acts as a forum where all 3 “M’s” work hand in hand. Starbucks can make announcements to its customer base as well as hear ideas from other customers that they could possibly use.

Starbucks has always been at the forefront of social media and integrating technologies into stores. For example they integrated iTunes into individual locations to enhance customer experience. Its forward thinking has kept Starbucks a successful company, still taking in around $9 billion a year.

It will be exciting to see how and what the company implements next.

This video below explains Starbucks idea of engaging customers in its marketing campaign by using social media as its primary platform.

By Adam Okimatsu

Crisis Management

A company must always have in the back of its mind a crisis management plan. It is never certain what can happen, but there must be a plan in place for when something does go wrong. In the article, Crisis Communication: A Case Study Perspective, the author Michael McGraw breaks down how a company can survive after a crisis.

The article thoroughly lays out exactly what a crisis can mean for a company and what to do to make sure there is a company left when all is said and done. One of the first steps is to prevent a crisis from happening. This is very rare, but possible. In 1992, McDonald’s experienced an incident over a hot coffee spill. An 81 year-old woman suffered third degree burns after spilling coffee on herself. McDonald’s could have avoided this incident if they had acted on previous complaints about their coffee. Over 700 people complained to the company of suffering burns due to the  coffee being too hot. In the end, McDonald’s survived the crisis and sustains a very healthy company reputation, but still had to pay the woman $640,000.

The most important parts of the article discuss about the ways a company can respond to a crisis. The author lays out a few strategies but the best plan is always to tell the truth and admit what happened was wrong. Rather than dwell on the mistakes the company, focus on moving forward and gaining the trust back from your consumers.

Another example of crisis management can be seen with McDonald’s again. A more detailed account can be found in the article, Weathering the SuperSize Me Storm. In 2004, SuperSize Me was produced by Morgan Spurlock. For 30 days the independent filmmaker ate only items on McDonald’s menu. After the 30 days, Spurlock’s health was obviously damaged. The movie was extremely popular and gained a lot of attention. McDonald’s reacted to this situation. The “SuperSize” size was discontinued. The company began to shift its attention towards a somewhat healthier menu. Though the restaurant chain is still not somewhere you’d eat to lose weight, it says a lot for the company that they made an effort to change their habits based on its critical attention.

Crisis averted.

By: Adam Okimatsu

Corporate Branding in the Eyes of Virgin America

A company’s brand and reputation is one of the most crucial aspects when trying to attract customers. Consumers like to identify themselves with a company, not always for what the company produces, but for what the company represents. Certain company brands may represent rebellion while others represent stability.

Virgin is an example of a company who’s brand is a major part of who they are. Virgin America, Virgin’s airline sector, released their “Breath of Fresh Airline” campaign to spread the word about how they’re reinventing domestic flying. They wanted to advertise some of their new features like mood lighting, in-cabin entertainment, and on-demand food ordering.

The campaign was released in a set of videos, each spotlighting one of the new features. The videos perfectly reflected the company’s reputation. Virgin as a company has always had a sense of humor and a quality of freshness that is product of their founder, Richard Branson. They take pride in being “hip” and having a large sense of style as a company.

Branson has been at the forefront of trying new ways to advertise, whether it be flying across the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon, or using their planes as billboards. Virgin’s goal is always to be found on the front page, not the back.

Based on the brand, Virgin has been able to create a customer base that is excited to be a part of the company and feels “cool” in doing so.

Because of their cutting edge advertising campaigns and quality airline service, Virgin America has been able to capture the title of Best Domestic Airline.

The video channel below is an example of the Breath of Fresh Airline Campaign. The video channel displays the mood lighting feature, but in a way that is entertaining and fitting to the company brand.

*The videos will play through automatically

By: Adam Okimatsu

Social Media and Employee Education

The uses of social media are constantly expanding. Companies today are using these outlets to educate their employees in a number of different ways.

In Social Media: Learning’s New Ecosystem, Frank Kalman explores the ways companies are using social media to enhance company culture and employee education. Companies like IBM use their online communities in the recruiting process. As a result, newly hired employees have an understanding of the company culture and are welcomed into the company with a little more insight than ever before.

Social media is also being used as a way to promote community learning. With the aging working force, new technologies are not so familiar with everyone. The social media venues are acting as a way for others to teach each other how to use them. For example, a younger employee can teach an older employee how to use Facebook through Facebook.

Some companies like GE have their own internal networks that are used as discussion forums after learning classes. Social learning can be a beneficial driver in the overall company education for an employee.

Social media has motivated employees to learn on a higher level with larger groups of people. This allows for the marketplace of ideas and a better understanding of what is being learned. It seems as though employees are taking more responsibility within their respective companies and are being active learners within their communities. This is a shift from the traditional role of the employer taking more of the responsibility.

Another outlook on social media with a company is how to use it for hotel employee recruiting. This article breaks it down with a series of tips on how to construct your social media presence when recruiting within the hospitality industry. Pay attention to number four, “create a user experience.” This is one of the most important aspects of having a social media presence.

By: Adam Okimatsu

Social Media Strategies in the Corporate World

In today’s corporate climate, companies are trying their best to keep up with the needs of their customers. Consumers no longer want to be bombarded with information, but rather have a say in the actions of their favorite companies. The relationship between consumer and company is now a conversation that requires constant attention.

Social media has exploded in recent years. Whether your company has a social media policy or not, your employees will be using Facebook or Twitter on their own personal devices. Rather than ban these social media outlets, companies should embrace the opportunities that they provide. However, a company must first know the risks and rewards of using such outlets and the preferred strategies behind them.

In the article Social Media Strategies, Jim Mortleman talks about how you should go about working in social media into your company culture. The company voice cannot merely be the mission statement transferred online in a humorless, monotone way. Real human beings must interact to show customers that they are listening and engaging in the conversation.

When entering into the social media landscape, a company must outline a set of rules and regulations for their employees. There is a risk of being online, and employees must know the threats that they might encounter. Sensitive company information must always be protected in the ever changing landscape of sophisticated malware. Employees must be educated on what to look out for when they are participating online so they don’t jeopardize the integrity of the company.

There must be a middle ground of the control a company has on their social media presence. You can’t be too controlling of your employees participation because that will hinder their innovative capacities and drive the social media use underground. At the same time, the social media landscape cannot be a free-for-all without any clear policies. A thought out strategy is necessary before entering into the social media world.

This video below explains the advantages of social media in a marketing landscape. People are constantly searching your company whether you have an online presence or not. It is imperative to get your company online so consumers can look at what your doing. It is a great tool to elaborate on your company’s mission and help your reputation.

By: Adam Okimatsu