Characteristics of Highly Influencial Brands in Social Media

When you go out at night with friends, how do you decide who you go out with?  Sometimes you might like to hang out with the funny one, the quiet one or the friendly one, but whoever it is, there is some amount of trust and shared interest.  Whether in person or online, you have a choice of where to go and who you want to hang out with.  Understanding this simple perspective is easier said than done for companies who are jumping into the digital social space.

As the world has gone “social”, so too have companies.  In the past, a brand or company did not need a personality to be loved by entire generations only a good marketing department.  One of the biggest challenges with social media that companies have is transitioning their personalities from a prepared marketing push to an ad-hoc, two-way communication.  Some companies and brands are diving in and taking on the challenge of morphing their digital personality and some are not.  For those who are taking the leap, some are showing better results than others. 

Consider the results of a global corporation like Coca-Cola so loved on Facebook (with over 5 million friends and wall comments that PR firms can be proud of) while another global consumer goods company, Nestle, is having a bit of a time on Facebook to say the least.  The issue with Nestle in particular is very telling in many ways.  A small recap for the purposes of this post: Greanpeace puts up a video on YouTube mocking the Kit-Kat candy bar.  Many users took the mocked-up wrapper and used it on Facebook as their avatar to post messages.  A Nestle rep responded to not use altered versions of their logos or risk being deleted.  The rest….is, well, making history as we speak.  Grass-roots efforts build up and blow over for every company, look at Nike.  Remember in 1996 when the campaign against their use of sweatshops to produce their shoes was all the rage?  Guess what, it still is look here.  Back in 1996 Nike was forced to reconcile with the way their products were produced.  Their actions made enough people happier and for most it’s done and gone while for a few, they think Nike could still do more.  It’s not the grass-roots movement that set this tyrant off on Nestle, it was the tone and manner in which Nestle responded that set this off.  By the way, take a look at Nike’s Facebook page  now (1 of them), they have learned and in my opinion are using Facebook in a way that Nestle and every other conglomerate global brand should, by focusing on the experience of each Brand and not on a wide-open corporate catch-all experience (that’s probably a different topic though).

So what makes companies more likable than others in the digital or social media space?

This seems to be the million dollar question (or multi-billion in some cases).   How can companies convince consumers to be digital “friends” and hang-out on social media sites without causing virtual riots?  For this topic, Marc Meyer and I went to the top of the virtual food chain to get a moderator who could guide us through this subject and come out of it with helpful tidbits that any company can use.  Tamar Weinberg is a veteran of community management and released a book last summer on The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web that continues to do very well.  Her hands on experience with Mashable’s community along with dozens of other clients puts Tamar in a league of her own.  This week she will moderate 3 questions on the following topic:

Topic: Characteristics of Highly Influencial Brands in Social Media

Q1: Is there advantage to having Brand or a person be your SM “face”?
Q2: How do you choose to follow Brands on Twitter, Facebook, blog, et al?
Q3: Build a checklist for Brands on how to behave in SM for best results.

Join us Tuesday March 23 at noon EST for a 1 hour interactive chat.  Participate by following #sm52 on Twitter or simply go to our LIVE page to get to all the action.

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