Brand and Reputation

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Learn to let go: the new reality for brands… For generations marketers been trained to think and act in a certain way with brand and reputation management – now that schooling is fast becoming obsolete OPINION COLUMN FEEL SECURE, YOU'RE IN GOOD HANDS The intricate web of social media is spun 24 hours a day, generating millions upon millions of potentially damaging opinions and comment. Most activity occurs out of office hours, during the evenings and at weekends. An attack on your brand can destroy it in hours and damage limi- tation, performed during standard office hours, Monday to Friday, is most often too little too late. There are many companies who will claim to 'monitor' your Social Media reputation, but the expertise and pedigree of Insider Technologies, watching, listening and analysing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year sets us apart from the crowd. Our Sentra product monitors all Social Media activity of interest to you and alerts to changes in sentiment, (positive or negative), unusual activity and potential brand and reputational damage, to you, your market or your competitors. The moment it happens, in real-time. If we wake you at 3 a.m., as well we might; or disturb your Sunday afternoon, you'll be glad that we did. With over 25 years expertise of monitoring high volume transaction systems for banks, retailers and major companies worldwide, alerting and escalating when the unusual, unexpected or unwanted occurs …. Who else should you trust with something as important as your brand, your reputation, your share price, your job? Sentra Social Network monitoring from Insider Technologies – for those who would rather not be monitoring Social Media, or who don't have the time; but understand that they must ...... and the implications if they don't! For more information on how you can protect your Social Media reputation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, please e-mail enquiries@insidertech.co.uk, call +44 118 909 9076 or visit our website at www.insidertech.co.uk T E C H N O L O G I E S inside r Command and control. Own- ership. Pro- t e c t i o n . Governance. Le- gions of brand and marketing profes- sionals have been brought up with this mindset. An organisation's brand and repu - tation is a strategic asset which can only be crafted by trained profes- sionals, which must be managed diligently and robustly, and which must be protected from misuse, abuse and mis- representation at all costs. This thinking has spawned volumes of brand rule books and, in many larger organisations, entire teams installed to ensure that the organisation's desired brand positioning and messaging is ac - curately reflected at every opportunity, internally and externally. The term brand police sounds all too familiar. This mindset, however, now has a nem - esis: empowerment. In a simpler time, consumers were much more passive. Communication from an organisation was largely one-way and largely control - lable as media options were fewer and trust higher than it is today. The passive consumer, however, has been replaced by a more savvy, connect - ed and empowered population, particu- larly accelerated by the advent of social media and the penetrating role of tech- nology in our day-to-day lives. Today's consumer expects greater par- ticipation in the brands they interact with. They expect more personalisation and more of a dialogue, and they expect to be listened to. Contrary to the con - trolled media environment of years gone by, today anyone with an opinion can share an update, post a tweet or write a review and there's absolutely nothing that an organisation can do about it. For business and brand owners, this is often treated as a risk, leading to fear and a potentially defensive response. I would argue, however, that the opportunity this shift towards empowerment presents far outweighs the risk. So what is the opportunity? Well, an empowered consumer isn't a bad thing. Better engagement with consumers, cli - ents and even colleagues in what your or- ganisation does, how it does it and what it stands for, has the potential to be potent. An empowered and positively engaged stakeholder is more likely to show loy - alty and advoca- cy to your brand, if you recognise they have a voice, want to be listened to and need to be re - sponded to. To get value from this opportunity the starting point is to accept that you can't control every message, every opinion and every act of your brand. As simple as that might sound, in practice it's almost counter-intuitive. It runs contra - ry to those teachings of brand and repu- tation management over many decades, and requires marketers to unlearn past models and approaches. It needs us to learn to let go. In practice, there are two key ingre - dients to help any organisation em- brace the democratisation of brands and reputation, and turn fear and risk into opportunity. Firstly, start by listening. A smart friend once told me, "You have two ears and one mouth for a reason". He was right. Businesses are all too quick to jump into a conversation with a con - sumer or announce something, but we often forget to listen first. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for gauging customer sentiment, un - derstanding frustrations and aspirations, and learning about our markets. Find the places your customers inhabit – the right blogs, forums, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and so on – and soak it up like a sponge. Importantly, have colleagues in your organisation do likewise; don't just keep it to the marketing team. Secondly, change what you mean by success. Encouraging marketers to let go of control and innovate requires a differ - ent mindset. Evaluating success based on whether something works or doesn't work will actually stifle innovation. Prioritise experimentation and a test- and-learn approach to customer engage - ment, new product development, brand- ed content and marketing campaigns. A little failure is good for the soul and the learnings that come with it can open up new opportunities for future success. THOMAS BROWN Director, strategy and marketing Chartered Institute of Marketing BRAND & REPUTATION | 05 RACONTEUR | 28 / 04 / 2015 raconteur.net

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