Social Media is a phrase everyone knows or has heard, and is certainly being tossed around by seemingly everyone with a heart beat and a pulse these days, and yet it is difficult at times to answer the question regarding Social media. If Facebook, MySpace, and Wikipedia are Social media sites, then what is social media? Perhaps the best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is an instrument used for communication, such as the radio, a newspaper, and television, and social media would be a social instrument of communication.
In Web 2.0 terms, you’re given information while that information interacts with you. The interaction can be various things from comments to rating a product or articles, and thus the beauty of Social media – it’s a two-way street providing you the opportunity to communicate while you’re engaged on that site. At one time it was commonly held that no one could sell High-priced items online, or anything else of real value for that matter – but that time has come and gone. More than three-quarter of US online adults made a purchase over the Web.
Nearly 4 out of 10 online buyers have made a travel purchase and more than one-third have managed their credit or banking accounts online. American Express Publishing and the Harrison Group’s report “The Second Annual Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America” found that 70% of US consumers with over $100,000 in discretionary, house hold income surveyed prefer online buying to the in-store experience. The same number (70%) also goes online to research products, comparison shop and make purchases.
This fondness for online shopping could very well be a case of time equaling money. More to the point, the retail experience has varied in its character. For example, the introduction of online retail has significantly changed the overall shopping experience. The term e-tail encompasses so many different experiences such as grocery e-tail, auction e-tail, and or specialty e-tail and a host of others. But now there’s a new experience on the rise and has been added to online shopping which is the rise of e-luxury online.
So what has sparked this sudden growth for luxury online? This new growth is largely because most wealthy Internet users in the United States are optimistic about the economy going forward according to Ipsos Mendelsohn and their online spending has historically been higher than average. That should make everybody happy and present an attraction to retailers, which have increased their attention to social networks to attract customers. But does this mean that the affluent will be as receptive to social marketing as other Web users? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. According to a study conducted by Unity Marketing, the outlook is mixed. But as confidence grows among Affluent about the economy, the Affluent will drive online spending. Believe it or not, the affluent lead the way to E-Commerce recovery, and that leads to another interesting point I’d like to make.
In the past, most corporations’ communications teams were responsible for protecting and preserving the corporation’s reputation. However, with the huge popularity of Social media, every department in your business can play a huge role in branding, monitoring and protecting the corporate image and reputation, beginning with the Human Resource department. One of the greatest challenges for Human Resource executives is breaking through walls that some corporations put up simply because there’s a belief and or policy to allow only their communication’s departments to represent the company and its brand identity. In some companies the wall is big. But there is a way to knock it down, if one has the right tools. Except in a few instances, most companies offer largely undifferentiated products and services; airlines for example fly their aircraft over and over, while serving the same food, and retail stores offer the same merchandise.
In many respects, their brand strategy is quite simply their business strategy. A brand, frankly speaking, is a promise to consumers to provide a specific level of service, value, and quality that can be expected and received. Think of a brand as a covenant between a business and its customers. Branding expert Martin Lindstrom said it best when he said “Great brands and religions have something in common: the idea of vanquishing a shared enemy.”
Today’s media approach to branding the message of a company to the consumer is greatly enhanced, with all the Social media platforms out there today, one thing is for certain – if the promise is not kept, customers will flee and go elsewhere. A classic example is Eastern Airlines who promised to “Earn its Wings Everyday” through superior customer service while simultaneously canceling flights, losing bags, and serving passengers horrible food. As a direct result, trust between customers and the airline were irrevocably broken, passengers boycotted and eventually Eastern Airlines went out of business and destroyed the brand forever.
What went wrong? Eastern Airlines failed to align the behavior of their employees with the brand promise, and that leads to my first tip to anyone building a brand; understand that the copy in your ad does not deliver your brand’s promise, nor is it your product – your brand’s promise is delivered by your people.
Herein lies the opportunity for Human Resources to break down the walls and into the branding game, by helping ensure that all of the large and small actions that people in the company take every day, throughout the organization, fall in line with the brand strategy.
Finally, use these seven tips to further enhance your position and participation in the company’s brand identity, ensuring that your company and its brand will have ever lasting years, and be in business for years to come.
Top 7 Strategies and Tips for getting Involved with the Company’s branding from the Human Resource Department to reach the Affluent:
- Conduct interviews as if you’re using a crystal ball. Look deeper and ask questions that lead to future responses.
- During interviews start thinking of the big picture – convey how the corporate reputation affects every aspect of the company’s business, including the hiring and terminating process.
- Create a company policy centered on conduct and disclosure, and offer to the communications department for implementation outside of your office and department.
- Understand how quickly information moves online and be ready to respond swiftly should an issue appear online.
- Review Social media sites before conducting an interview, and become aware of the social behavior of the person seeking the position in the company before to employ them.
- Keep your temper under control, and never speak badly to anyone using Social media and review if the potential new employee has done the same. Remember that your bad comments will out live your temper.
- Think the Future. Try to predict how announcements, changes in policies, ad campaigns, and world events can impact your organization, while taking part to lead in a reputation crisis.
Keeping these helpful tips and strategies in mind will go a long way in the process of an HR executive participating and supporting with branding strategies. Ten years ago it would not have been possible for this kind of intelligent departmental interaction to be feasible.
As a Human Resource executive, you can take advantage of this opportunity to reach the affluent consumer by incorporating social media and monitoring into your communications plans today!