mardi 20 mai 2014

The Future of Brands? Individuals.

In the past, a corporate marketing team controlled brand voice. With the advent of social technologies that empower the individual voices of employees, customers, and members of the broader public, however, centralized control is giving way to grassroots, many-to-many dialogue. Corporate marketing teams aren’t going anywhere, but their role is transforming to one of curator and facilitator. (You'll be hearing lots more on this at next week's Milken Institute Global Conference, where I'm speaking on a panel about the "brand battlefield.")For the naysayers that still believe social networking sites are only for millennials: the latest Pew data reports that 73% of all online adults and 65% of online adults aged 50-64 use social networks. Taken together, these statistics demonstrate that the majority of today’s workforce now uses social networks.

And yet, in spite of this incredible social media sea change, research firm Altimeter found that only 27% of companies report employees at all levels are truly aware and trained on how to use and not use social media. So your employees--brand ambassadors, potentially for good or bad--are actively using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but you’re not educating them on what is and is not okay? Sounds like a recipe for social media disaster.
Marketing, with support from sales leaders, compliance and legal, and the entire C-suite, needs to understand that harnessing customer and employee voices for brand marketing is the new status quo. Ignore this business trend, and your competitors will surely leave you behind.
And it’s not just about preventing fires. More importantly, this is about capitalizing on the opportunity to do better business and stay relevant to consumers. (You'll be hearing lots more on this at next week's Milken Institute Global Conference, where I'm speaking on a panel about the "brand battlefield.)
At Northwestern Mutual, a leading financial services firm and Hearsay Social client, over 2,500 financial representatives (like Nicholas Harter below) use social media to enhance the face-to-face relationships with clients and centers of influence, such as accountants and attorneys who may refer them business. Leveraging insights from social networks allows advisors to do their job smarter and more efficiently by connecting to the right client at the right time with the right, personalized message.

Whether in financial services or any industry, customers appreciate businesses who understand their needs and provide personalized service.
The corporate marketing team no longer has full ownership of the brand. Employees and customers play a key role. Social media is both a by-product of this trend as well as a way to reinforce and validate the shift in trust and influence from institutions to individuals. The future of brands is individuals.
Attending the Milken Institute Global Conference next week? Don't miss Clara's panel--Brand Battlefield: Mobile and Social Networks--on Monday, April 28 at 9:30 AM.

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