Issues with Managing a Brand in the Age of New Media

consumer interacting with brand on new age media
photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

It is no longer all fun and games. A few years back it used to be a lot easier to build and manage a social following or maintain a brand’s online presence. A good old portfolio website and a Facebook brand page with a few hundred fans was all you needed.  Now, you need a strategy, a plan, a manager and of course an ‘oh, crap what just happened’ plan.

While on the surface it might seem easier than ever to manage a brand, I want you to consider the contrarian take that it is in fact more difficult to manage a brand in the age of new media. Why? Ponder and please comment on these 4 points:

  1. Too many channels to manage and of course you now have to monitor the entire internet.
  2. The control has shifted to individuals, influencers have their own built-in audience. Hello, Nutella anyone?
  3. You can no longer cover your tracks. A brand used to be able to pull a TV spot or stop running print creative if it was offensive or damaging to a brand. One little mistake could stick with your brand indefinitely.
  4. Managing a brand is now a 24/7 job, one that you can’t just walk away from or decide to take a week off like you might with a paid media schedule.

Am I trying to scare you? Yes. I want to educate and inform you of the flip side of new media and make you aware of the dangers and pitfalls that exist. Does this mean you should not invest in digital? Of course not! I am merely suggesting that you need to change the way you go about managing your brand’s digital communication. With that being said, it is advised to include flexibility in your marketing plan.

Every once in a while an example comes around that makes marketers perk up and re-think what they are doing. Recently in the United States we have been unlucky to have tragedy play out in the public eye, from the recent Tornado in Oklahoma that was shared in real-time to the Boston Marathon that turned social media users into detectives and investigators.

On a positive note, more people have discovered the power and speed of social media, especially Twitter who has changed the landscape of news. However, we saw media companies trying to compete with the speed of Twitter and trying to break stories that were unconfirmed. Sorry FOX and CNN but your days of breaking news are over. Deservedly these brands were racked over the coals for their poor reporting practices, including this article from USA Today: On Boston bombing, media are wrong – again

What does tragedy have to do with how you manage your brand?

Decisions need to be made before an incident occurs, where does your brand stand on Auto Tweets and Tragedy? You need to decide if you’re going to cancel auto-posts to social networks, something you don’t have to worry about when all of your marketing utilizes old school media. Public Relations teams used to have days to respond, now every minute that goes by just adds fuel to the fire.

I don’t know about you but I played sports growing, and my coaches used to talk about learning more from our failures than from our successes. Want to learn what not to do? Have you heard about the Amy’s Baking Company Epic Fail that played out almost exclusively online? The Greatest Example of How a Restaurant Should Not React on Social Media, thanks to Amy and Samy, we all know what not to do.

What should you be doing when managing a brand in the age of new media?

Start slow. Digital and social media is a marathon and not a race. Your goal should be to create relationships with your audience while sharing great content that showcases your brand in the best possible light. Therefore, when someone searches, they find all the good content that helps make your brand look like a rock star.

Think of new media like dating, do you highlight your positives or your negatives when you first meet someone? We all want to lead with our best and for that reason alone you need to proactively share content that demonstrates your value to the consumer. Some tips to consider while getting started or if you are wise enough to go back and re-evaluate your current marketing communication strategy:

  1.  Spend time researching your competitors. See what’s working and where they spend their time and dollars.
  2. Look at industry leaders outside of your business for best practices. Who’s leading the way?
  3. Conduct a digital brand audit – do this from an “Incognito mode” that’s offered on the Chrome browser so you appear the way customers might see you.
  4. How do you plan to monitor your brand online? A few options besides Google Alerts
  5. Integrate your anchor marketing strategy so that ALL of your marketing efforts are supporting each other.
  6. Talk to all departments to gauge their activity, interest and the opportunity that exists through new media. Gather content from all departments to help humanize your brand voice.
  7. How can you better service your customers? For both B2B and B2C – Using Social Media as a Customer Service Tool

Managing a Brand in the Age of New Media requires you to think, strategize, game plan and be ready to react quickly, change directions or even apologize. So before jumping right into producing digital content you might find this helpful, 6 Rules of Marketing Strategy for the Digital Age.

Now its your turn, share in the comments below your thoughts on the challenges of managing a brand in today’s digital environment.

David Schwartz
David is a Brand Strategist focused on building relevant brands, while creating valuable consumer relationships to promote engagement. By utilizing the popularity of digital and mobile media, along with the social web he helps companies understand the power of controlling their content. David started his career working for MTV in New York, he then proceeded to Atlanta to work with the likes of Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A and the Home Depot. From his time working with companies of all sizes he has learned that a strong brand is the key to long term success by turning customers into brand advocates. Now living in Nashville with his wife and two children, David works with companies of all sizes teaching and consulting on best practices for building a brand in the digital age.
David Schwartz
David Schwartz

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