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How to Incorporate Social CRM Into Your Company Branding

There are two social factors key to branding your business within the new Social CRM business model: humanization and personalization. Too often, a brand representative thinks she must be a faceless entity without a personality — Brand X, not Mary at Brand X.

But it’s hard to have a conversation with a brand; only people can truly communicate with each other. Humanize your brand and shape how it will grow and evolve by giving it a personality. Technology allows users to connect to friends, family, followers, fans, and subscribers in all corners of the world at any hour of the day.

With all these conversations fighting for our attention, users must feel a connection to something before they’re inspired to engage, and the best way to do this is to show a human side of your brand and demonstrate what’s really going on behind the scenes.

Once you’ve established a connection, how are you going to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with your customers? In order to successfully position your brand in social media, you have to be willing to look at your customer relationships in human terms, with consideration for issues like trust, emotional connection, respect, and so on.

If your brand doesn’t show willingness to evolve and change, it may get brushed to the side by consumers looking to have a personal connection with companies today. You have to stay relevant, and you can do that by humanizing your brand.

Show your company’s human side

Humanizing your brand is more than a new marketing ploy or effort. Humanization is a deep, evolving characteristic necessary to stay in the social media game.

Information on the web is overflowing. In order to make your brand stand out, you must drive your brand the way you do personal relationships in your own life. This means talking the way your customers do, admitting mistakes, and having fun with the content you post.

For instance, IKEA, a large furniture and home store, made its brand more human by taking its signature blue shopping bags and creating a fashion show around them, where the clothes were made entirely out of these bags. They then posted the photos on their Facebook page and asked fans to upload their own and vote for their favorite.

Community building inside and outside of the organization will help you keep moving forward in the new social business model. Enable your human capital (your people, employees, coworkers) to tell the story of your brand to outside audiences such as customers, vendors, investors, partners, and so on.

A newer trend that might make traditional marketing professionals cringe is to share your brand’s flaws. In order to be trustworthy, you have to be humble enough to let people know that you make mistakes. When appropriate, use humor when allowing your customers to see your weaker side. If the error is of a more serious nature, let your more empathetic side show and become helpful and resourceful.

A great example of this comes from The American Red Cross. An administrator of its Twitter account accidentally tweeted this from @RedCross instead of her personal account: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer . . . when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd.”

The Red Cross quickly deleted the tweet and owned up to the mistake, tweeting this response: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” They went on to partner with Dogfish Head to drive donations.

Just be careful you don’t overdo it. Companies have been known to post pictures of their entire staff attending, for instance, a group picnic, only to receive angry posts from customers saying they can’t get anyone on the phone because the whole company is out partying. So make clear to your social media representatives that after hours fun shouldn’t get in the way of providing customer service.

Here are some tips to start building a culture-rich internal community that humanizes your brand:

  • Leverage the influence of your employees’ personal networks. Each one of your employees shares stories about your company to their friends, family, and social sphere of influence. Encourage this brand ambassadorship.

  • Listen to the stories being shared about your brand. Through social media and social media monitoring tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck, you can track conversations about and mentions of your brand. Respond and engage in kind. Join the conversation.

  • Share your brand’s stories across different channels. Repurpose stories gathered from one channel or audience to a different channel or audience for integrated branding.

Personalization

One of the most powerful ways a brand can connect with its customers is by allowing customers to play with the brand and make it their own. Here are some good examples:

  • Coca-Cola shares fan stories on its Facebook Page, as do countless other brands.

  • Lilly Pulitzer, a fashion brand, created an app where users could design a bedroom and enter to win all the products in the room.

  • Paint company Benjamin Moore took this idea a step further, allowing customers to upload their own photos and then use Benjamin Moore’s room builder tool to change paint colors and rearrange furniture in their own space.

Moving from digital to the real world, Starbucks may be the most successful case study of all case studies for just about any topic in marketing and business. Personalization is no exception. On the customer side, you approach a knowledgeable, friendly barista at Starbucks and get to hyper-customize your beverage. When your beverage is ready, a barista calls you by name and hands you the drink. That’s personalization!

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