A few people have asked what a brand strategist is and what resources I recommend for aspiring brand strategists. In super simple terms, a brand strategist is someone who learns everything there is to learn about a brand and everything surrounding that brand – including its users, fans, prospects, detractors – and can distill it down into only what matters to create the most relevant value proposition. And then recommends marketing and/or communication strategies for bringing that brand to life.
Seem to be a lot of folks looking for Super Simple Social media examples to help them or their clients get it. So I want to share what I think to be a pretty remarkable story about a social effort that Jigsaw, the agency that so graciously writes me a paycheck every couple of weeks, did with social media in five days – Yes, FIVE DAYS. Caveat: I don’t want people to take away that social media is a quick-turn solution. It typically is NOT. It is a long-term commitment. But I have found that this example has helped whet the appetite of even the biggest nay sayers, because it is so ridiculously simple.
Situation/Objective: Blood Drive. Need to get 16-18 year olds to donate blood in greater numbers. Muy pronto.
Strategy: Use social communication tool to enable current teenage blood donors to influence their friends and peers to donate.
Super Simple Tactics: Facebook. Coach 17-year-old blood drive organizer to 1) launch Facebook fan page and event page 2) add some simple video and links and 3) invite people to join. Watch cryptic teenage conversation unfold.
The Money Tactic: Create discussion threads. Ask “Do you know anyone who ever needed blood? What’s the story?” Experience awe as young woman steps up to offer this emotional plea:
Then, send reminder message two days before blood drive. Encourage group members to check out the above story.
Result: 23% increase in blood donation over previous blood drive, with no other significant differences in communication. Messages from other teens indicate that “I did donate today, and Hailey’s story gave me the extra boost of courage to get over my fear of needles.”
A Few Observations:
First of all, it is the best feeling in the world when you know without a doubt that what you just did made a difference. There is NOTHING better. Second, it is important to note that it wasn’t just that fact that we used Facebook that had the influence; the fact that we were on Facebook merely helped the organizers and participants get excited and talk up the event. All we did was organize the channel; they did all the real work. Finally, this is a best case scenario. Facebook is great for mobilizing actual causes, but I think even for those it is getting more and more challenging to get noticed on Facebook. And it’s not this simple for every brand, by any stretch of the imagination.
Still, it does whet the appetite, doesn’t it? Is this helpful or not?
Brand personality has always been important. (Duh.) Now, for brands in social media, it matters more than ever. When a brand enters social media it should take a long hard look at how its personality is stacking up in that context. Welcome to the personality contest, folks. Bring it.
Let’s use the airline business as an example. It’s one that I know reasonably well, having worked on the American Airlines business at their agency in Dallas a few lifetimes ago. American has always been a seriously conservative brand. I would describe their brand personality as professional and efficient. It’s the LinkedIn of airlines. Yawn.
What’s the rest of your competitive social sphere look like? Maybe you’ve also got a brand like AirTran, with its crowdsourcing site everyflight.com and winning points by being the first airline to offer WiFi on every flight. (Hopefully, you do not have their social “hate” groups created by customers.) Based on the Tweet I showed at the start of this post, I would say that when you choose to go social, you are putting yourself in a position where you are going to be compared, and you need to deal with that fact.
What do you think about how brand personality needs to evolve?
I’ve been doing a lot of research on what higher education is doing with social media to engage students, prospects and alumni. And I just have to give some kudos to Milwaukee’s Marquette University (MU), because they are at the top of the heap, not just locally but nationally. It’s a great example to share with clients and others who are looking for what social media “should” look and feel like.
The only thing didn’t necessarily get is why the only blog I could find for Marquette was the Law School Faculty Blog. According to the latest report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 50% of private college and universities have blogs (though I speculate that probably 90% of them suck). So, it seems like they might be missing an opportunity to build their personality even more and add some depth to the conversation. And, given their brand strategy of “Be the Difference”, there’s definitely opportunity to use social communications to build that position while also building community. As “Mr. Cigelske” stated, “We’ve got some things in the works. You’ve got to just keep thinking big.”
Way to go Marquette. Even though one of the humans I personally couldn’t care less about is Danny Gokey, nice job with the social stuff.