Get A Brand Cult Following

Posted: February 25, 2010 in Research, Social Media, Social Network, Websites
Tags: , ,

We’ve heard over and over that content is king. This is no different in social media. The only way you’re going to get a brand cult following on the Internet is if your content is good enough to build a message around. But that’s not all you need….

This concept was one of the main takeaways from our Intro to Online Communities class on Monday, February 22, 2010. Our guests included:

  • Wendy Cohen: Manager of Community and Alliances for Participant Media
  • Alex Cohen: New Media Specialist for Golin Harris PR (APOC ’09)
  • Nicole DeRuiter, Community Manager at Teleflora (APOC :09)
  • Jeff Rushton, manages all things online at POM Wonderful

The main focus of our discussion was corporate websites. Most people know these sites as the home domain of a company where users can go to learn more about the company’s products and services. The web URL is usually shown in all the company’s advertising efforts and sends customers there to get more information. Unfortunately, users are all tired of corporate websites. They see the company’s well crafted messages, politically correct photos, and content that places the best spin on all things corporate.

In today’s social media, users are not going to these corporate sites to make decisions about purchasing products or using services. By the time users go the corporate websites, the decision to purchase has already been made.

Corporations who have static websites that are updated with only corporate-approved content should look into changing the direction of their site, so that the content comes from users as well as employees. A major part of these corporate sites should be developed as more of a partnership with users who can work in conjunction with their employees to add new content. These new web elements will have a more balanced point of view about the company, which users will trust more than websites filled with politically correct messages.

Another key point of our discussion was that some companies are tracking social media platforms to watch for mentions of their company brands. When their brand is mentioned in a negative way, the companies are trying to respond immediately. For example, when an airline passenger complained on Twitter about not getting a vegetarian sandwich on a flight, he was met at the arrival gate with a vegetarian sandwich. When customers of Teleflora complain about service on Twitter, Nicole responds to them directly and tries to solve their problem. When problems are solved quickly and efficiently, the customer sends a positive message saying that the company took care of them. I think this immediate customer service gives companies very positive PR and builds brand image better than if the negative situation had never occurred.

Finding company advocates is another great strategy in getting positive press out about a company. When users are blogging about subjects directly related their company products, our panel members reach out to them. At POM, Jeff finds people who are blogging or tweeting about pomegranate juice and asks them to try his company’s products. This is obviously a risk: if they don’t like the products, they will tell people they don’t like them, but if they like the product they will definitely recommend it. As stated above, if you have a strong, solid product, chances are that it will be received favorably and positive messages will be sent.

Cool Website: This is the website from Participant Media that showcases social action campaigns for upcoming movies produced by the company. Instead of having an “About Us’ page on the site, there is a graphic that says “Your Part In The World Starts Here”. When you click on it, words appear without music or audio that gives you a sense of what the site is about and your part in it. Very cool!

  1. Jessica-
    It was great to have the chance to come in and share my experiences with all of you. I don’t know that I agree with you (or perhaps with the outcome of that class session) that a corporate website should be shifted to be less ‘copywritten’.

    I think that being clear and succinct is difficult to do with many people contributing, and the best corporate websites give factual product information that will help the people who have decided (or are close to that decision).

    I DO agree that there needs to be a wider number of voices from within a company helping share the overall company culture, but I think that’s best done in focused areas of a company’s website or via other platforms aside from the corporate site.

    Thanks for having me and feel free to keep in touch.

    • Thanks so much for commenting on my blog! I absolutely agree with you that a corporate website should not totally shift to be less ‘copywritten.’ I believe that corporations should definitely have specific brand-focused messages on their websites, but I also believe that there is an opportunity for corporations to add interactive elements to their sites that gives their customers a way to interact with their brand. I truly appreciate the information you shared with us during our class, and I wish you all the best at Teleflora!

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