The impact of Social Media on Corporate Brands

THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON CORPORATE BRANDS

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According to Gartner, 50% of companies blocked access to social media in 2010, but the number of companies blocking access for employees is dropping at almost 10% per year. The more progressive organizations are not only allowing their employees to use social media at work, they are encouraging it. As social media matures, its impact is much more closely aligned with the individual than any brand. Consider these data

“Brands succeed when they break through in culture. And branding is a set of techniques designed to generate cultural relevance. Digital technologies have not only created potent new social networks but also dramatically altered how culture works

SENIOR EXECUTIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA

More than 60% of Fortune 500 CEOs have zero social media presence. That may be a problem. Social media, used correctly, can be an executive productivity tool, a global broadcast channel, a source of consumer and competitor intel, and a PR vehicle. Today, building trust with customers and rapport with employees requires offering up a real, human face for the brand. Social media represents one of the most powerful ways for CEOs to do this, efficiently and at scale. Consider that 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media.

A recent study by Hootsuite and LinkedIn pointed to the importance of having executives active on social media. It noted that executives in the financial services industry active on social receive 6.54 times higher engagement than their peers; 78% of social sellers out perform their peers who aren’t on social media and organisations that embrace social are 51% more likely to achieve their target.

Social media sentiments run both positive and negative. Companies can’t just ignore their negative Glassdoor reviews either — at least three to four members of your team should be alerted every time there is a review that gets posted. That way, it can be addressed, if needed, in a timely manner.   Effective social media strategies can have a profound effect on employee engagement and retention. Consider that:

• 57% more likely to align social media engagement to more sales leads

• 20% more likely to stay at their company

• 27% more likely to feel optimistic about their company’s future

• 40% more likely to believe their company is more competitive

It doesn’t mean that CEO’s must respond to everything. But it does mean that s/he is managing and overseeing the evolution of the company brand and how it engages and evolves. Much like any Brand Manager, it is now critical for today’s CEO to monitor social media sentiment on a constant basis, and refine brand messaging accordingly, for consumers and markets, but perhaps more importantly, for employees and stakeholders.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA DOOR SWINGS BOTH WAYS

Thanks to social media, what happens in the office doesn’t necessarily stay there – social media, mobile and real-time news means that the internal is not necessarily internal anymore. Anything could go public within minutes. Since the internal can become external so quickly, it’s important to look at the messages you are sharing about your company brand across internal and external touch points, and whether they are aligned.

Facebook is now the largest distributor of news on the planet. But facts as well as opinions (or even fake news and ‘alternative facts’) are treated equally on Facebook. Consequently, only headlines that are attention grabbing get clicked on, liked or shared; this fuels the cycle of negative, attention grabbing headlines. The more shocking the headline the more likely is it to be shared and sometimes go viral; soon the negative narratives can become a part of common perception.

A recent Pew Research Center survey indicates that 77 percent of employees at companies are using social media at work.  Just think how a bad day at work could lead to an outburst on social media. Then marry that with the suggestion that half of employees in the US want their resignations to go viral  and you have a volatile mix.

Your employer brand will be reported on not just through word-of-mouth but on social media. Potential workers tend to believe their social networks more than a recruiter.  Because Glassdoor.com allows current and past employees to review their experience as an employee and can perhaps make or break a company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

“Social media binds together communities that once were geographically isolated, greatly increasing the pace and intensity of collaboration. Now that these once-remote communities are densely networked, their cultural influence has become direct and substantial.”

PRIORITIZING SOCIAL MEDIA

As I review the data on the impact social media is having on brands, it is inescapable that we are seeing a radical transformation of brands. My experience managing brands in corporations and my journey as a consultant and author has given me perspective from multiple vantage points. My intent with this article is to get you thinking about whether you personally and your company are prioritizing social media as a centerpiece of your brand strategy.

Thanks for reading.  Comments are most welcome. Please share this with others who might have an interest.

Every two weeks for the coming months, I will explore issues that impact corporate brands today.  Next, I’ll visit purpose with The Power of Authenticity and Your Cause. Then, Aligning Your Internal and External Brand, explores the concept of brand alignment and some paths to create a truly aligned organisation. I address each of these topics in greater depth in my book The CEO’s guide to Brand Alignment in the age of a Questioning Workforce (and World) due out later this year.