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December 2010

Social Brands & Collaborative Storytelling

234606376_35001b11fd_b A brand's success as a social brand is driven by the community's social consensus.  Social consensus is a reflection on our collective experiences.  

A good storyteller knows how to command attention and communicate his or her message.  A great storyteller knows how to elicit a particular response.  A social storyteller knows her to elicit a response that will elicit further response, as well as how to interact with this exchange over time.

Social Brands stand apart from a Brands Playing In Social when they go beyond embracing collaborative storytelling and begin driving the engagement overall.  Haughty Brands Playing In Social seek to drive before they have qualified their value to the community.  Responsive Brands Playing In Social focus on the needs of the community, offering social customer service and possibly socially responsive products.

Social Brands start by establishing their value and contributing as a member of the community.  But what makes Social Brands stand apart is their vision and leadership ability, inspiring and driving new conversations.  Being responsive and responsible doesn't make you a successful Social Brand, it's the cost of entry.  Creativity and social engineering is what makes a Social Brand stand apart.  


New Brand Pages : Marketer Implications

About 20 minutes ago a number of Facebook Brand/Like/Fan Pages transitioned into a brand new format.  A few minutes later, all of these pages reverted back to their traditional format.  I'm guessing that someone at Facebook accidentally upgraded a new page format that was still in development.  

Update: Facebook has since confirmed that this was an accidental release of a prototype.

Luckily, I was able to spend a good couple of minutes playing with the new Facebook Brand Page offering.  Below please find a few of the changes I noticed.

  • The brand pages now look just like personal pages.  First impressions, the page is more open and light.
  • While the page's creative tabs appear as items in the sidebar, core page functionality such as photos and videos appear as links at the top of the page, much like on personal pages.
  • While the brand page I viewed did not have Facebook Questions enabled, this link appeared at the top of the page.  If this becomes a default link, this could open a new world of forced interactivity for marketers.
  • Custom tabs have been relocated to the sidebar.
  • Page admins can now comment and like content on the page as an individual.  
  • To comment as the brand, page admins need to click a secondary log-in button at the top of the page.  Page Managers: do not forget to properly disclose your material relationship with the brand in your comments from your personal account.  
  • Speculation:  This dual login option may speak to the ability for page admins to post as the brand on pages other than their own.  
  • You can now choose your page avatar independent of your header graphic.  This is already available, but Facebook now prompts brands to update their imagery.
  • Once you log in as the page manager, you will see notifications for all of the people who have commented on your page much like any individual would.
  • To switch back to your personal account, you will need to click the Account button on the top of the screen and choose to switch back to your personal account.  It is now really important for page admins to remember to switch back to their personal account before they continue interacting with their personal friends Facebook.
  • I cannot seem to locate the option to filter posts on the Wall.  It looks like the only display option shows posts by the brand and our fans.  This would place a premium on brand responsiveness and community management, as all visitors would now see all wall posts by default.
  • For whatever reason, a number of apps don't seem to be working on a few of the brand pages I visited (but do not manage).  I wonder if there isn't a technology specs update in the works.

Please note that this was likely an incomplete product that was accidentally released.  A lot can change by the time this release sees the light of day.

The most important takeaway from this brief window in this unreleased-released-unreleased update is that brand pages are going to become far more human-like in design, placing a far higher premium on conversational engagement on the wall.  As I didn't get too deep into the app management dashboard before the pages reverted, I cannot tell you whether or not this "lighter" page features more real estate for creative in the sidebar tabs.

10 Small Biz Advantages in Social Media

For whatever reason, many of my neighbors have eschewed the corporate world and operate their own small businesses.  Every so often a couple of my neighbors will stop by and inquire about the latest social media trend.  How do I use FourSquare?  Do I really need Twitter?  Why do I care about Facebook?  Does any of this really help? 

Inevitably, the next time we talk they have the same excuses for why they haven't tried any of the approaches we've discussed.  You work with big clients with lots of money.  I don't have the resources to compete, so I figured I would focus elsewhere.

While it's true that big brands have bigger budgets, a larger staff and far greater assets at their disposal, small businesses are often far better suited for social engagement.  To Cynthia Boris's point over at Marketing Pilgrim, small businesses have a number of unique advantages over major brands.  Below please find the top ten reasons I have given my neighbors for how their position can be advantageous when approaching social marketing.  Here's to hoping they don't read this blog and won't take offense to my sharing this post.  You know I love you guys.

  1. Small Businesses have little formal bureaucracy to prevent social experimentation
  2. Small Businesses have far less formal departmental silos standing in the way of progress
  3. Small Businesses have no branding police holding up creative deployment
  4. Small Businesses know their customers personally, so it's far easier to have a more meaningful dialogue AND far easier to integrate online/offline conversations
  5. Small Businesses have a real face and personally behind their businesses, and their customers know and recognize this face.  This makes it much easier to build meaningful relationships.
  6. Small Businesses don't have the challenges of scaling human interactions.  At a large business, tracking who had what conversation with whom on which channel, as well as the outcome of these conversations can become an arduous, burdensome and at times costly process.
  7. Small Businesses have lower customer expectations when it comes to production quality (ex YouTube videos)
  8. Small Businesses have lower customer expectations of 24/7 customer service
  9. Small Businesses can get by using mostly free social tools.  Whereas large businesses require scalable operational tools for tracking and managing interactions, small businesses rarely have the challenge of scale and can often get by using free tools built with the individual user in mind.
  10. Small Business interactions with customers are by and large far more human than large brand interactions.  As a customer, I know Mario from Mario's Pizza.  When I see their facebook update, I can smell the pizza and hear Mario singing in the background.  I can't say the same for my favorite brand of soft drinks.

The #1 Mistake Small Businesses Make in Approaching Social

Small Businesses have a lot going for them in social media.  The biggest mistake I've found small business owners make is that they tend to look at social as technology rather than as people.  My advice would be to start with what you know, your business and your customers, and then learn how to use these tools and technologies to better what you already do best. 

The key here is to NOT focus on the technology.  Don't approach a consultation with the objective of "getting on Facebook."  Find someone who knows the space well enough, present your business challenge and ask your social adviser what tools and approach will work best for you.  This is about your business and your customers, not their technology.  It's just like running into someone at your kid's little league game, just online.  So don't worry about the dress code.  Capice