Your brand is the perception of who you are, your reputation, what others tell their friends, co-workers, fans and followers about you. Whether it is your business or your personal brand, you can manage (not completely control) what your reputation is online by being intentional and consistent about the content you post and how you interact with others.
What is really interesting is comparing what you say your brand is to what is actually said about you. (Gulp!) If someone who had never heard of you were to read through all of your comments, posts, tweets, see your uploaded pics and videos, links and suggested articles you gave across all your social media accounts in one sitting – what would they think of you? A scary proposition for some possibly – but the cornerstone of word of mouth marketing is to start with a good product, be confident enough in that product that you want people to talk about it because 1) you know it can stand up to the test and 2) if there are any complaints or negative feedback you are willing to change it because you know that your audience is your partner and your civilian sales force.
This week I spoke to two Public Relations classes about branding and gave them an assignment – to do a brand audit on a local company. Each small group chose one company to audit and were then asked;
- find the company on all online channels they utilized such as their website, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare and review ALL content posted in the past 30 days
- describe the brand of the company based solely on above content from company online channels
- rate the use of the right social media tools to showcase the brand, consistent brand messaging across various social media tools and true engagement of their audience (not just promotion)
The information that comes back about you or your company from a brand audit like this is golden – even if it isn’t exactly what you expected or completely positive. You need to know what the perception of you is out there, only then can you address it and change it if necessary. The days of ‘telling’ the masses who you are through advertising and press releases are over; people that interact with you or have any experience with you tell their circles about you. That is your brand. Pay attention to it.
The surprise for me was that the students included me in their assignment! They looked through my tweets, LinkedIn profile and read some posts from this blog and gave me the following perception of my SocialGrrrl brand:
Karen’s blog is interesting, but very business like. She may have interesting stories, but they always come back to a central business theme she is getting at.
She’s easy going and bubbly and that really comes through on her profile with her picture and profile background, her blog is a more professional platform than her twitter account, it’s also a social network for her personal friendships.
it is evident how passionate she is about her passion of marketing and social media, she seems very interested in what other people have to say and she values being able to talk to others to get her opinions across.
I enjoyed the humor she integrated into her outlets, made her refreshing and follow-able
Luckily for me the feedback was positive (because I work in the same institution as my auditors possibly?!) but one item mentioned by all the audits was loud and clear to me: my blog comes across (potentially) too business-like and could be a disconnect from my social Twitter self so I am going to attempt to ‘shift’ it over time.
What do you think people say about you based on your social media activity? Is it close to how you describe yourself, or if not, how far off do you think brand is? Try doing a brand audit of you or your business… golden!
Use this: Branding Audit Worksheet for Businesses