How should Brands behave in Social Media?

Posted: April 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Thoughts On... | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

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A friend recently asked me a question on Facebook regarding Brands in Social Media, and I thought I”d repost it here. The question is immensely complicated and my answer is overly simplified, but for your reading pleasure, here you go.

Q: On Sina Weibo (China”s Twitter), people re-share the same post from an influential micro-blogger more than a hundred times within several minutes. But a post from Brands, fans rarely share… How can Brands generate interaction while transferring the product”s benefits?

A: First, who cares about brand attributes? Only the brand manager of that brand does. Do you as a consumer of media and products yearn to hear and learn about brand attributes or a product”s benefits? I bet the answer is no.

Social Media has been built in part to equalize and democratize interaction and relationship. Brands need to approach social media as if they are any other individual in social media. What do individuals talk about? Do they talk to their friends about their personal attributes? No. Why? Because its weird, no one cares, you”ll piss off your friends and it makes you look like you”re an arrogant narcissist.

So what do real influential individuals talk about, and what is it that other people love them for? Influential individuals talk about the topics that they are passionate about. Specifically, the issues that are important to them and to their community. Other people learn about the individual”s personality by the things that individual talks and cares about. The individual does NOT exclusively tell other people he/she is about this or that.

So Brands need to do the same. Brand attributes and values are the personality of the brand. But then, as a personality, what should the Brand care about that is going on in the real world? How does the Brand, as a real individual, participate in the real world? The continual answering, exploring, exercising these questions is how a Brand should behave in social media.

Brands that build games or entertaining platforms is ok, it allows people to participate and interact. But instead of trying to get people to engage directly with the Brand in its brand attributes, the brand should build platforms and interactions that help individuals participate in the issues that the individual (and the brand) cares about in the world.

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Toms: Really talking and doing what they care about.