Engage, Listen, Be Authentic, Be Transparent. But How?

I survived SXSWi 2011 and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. Okay, I kid. This year’s conference actually served for some great networking opportunities and some solid presentations and heated panel discussions around branding, marketing, business and social media. For instance, “Brand Advertising: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising” (#brandjo), “All Grown Up: Brand Mascots in the Digital Age” (#brandmascots), and “Creation, Curation & the Ethics of Content Strategy,” (#CSethics) stressed that companies of all sizes in the digital age must engage, listen, and be authentic and transparent when communicating with audiences.

The digital age has forced a dramatic shift towards almost requiring businesses to “keep it real” as a common practice—or risk getting caught in the act. Thanks to social anything, the public has taken control and can see right through the fog. So, if you are providing a product or service that truly solves a problem, then telling your story with transparency shouldn’t be a problem right? Not necessarily. Candidly speaking to a targeted public about your product or service, much less them speaking back to you—or about you—doesn’t come easily. But if you stay away from the fluff, buzzwords, and ”look at me” speak, and narrate your story with the purpose of showing  them how they can benefit, you will be surprised at what can cultivate.

Below are some take-a-ways that should help give you some direction on building and delivering your brand; and doing it so that you can effectively and authentically reach those who can genuinely evangelize your brand for you—because they want to.

  • Ask yourself: What are the 3-4 things you want the public to know about you and your brand?
  • Listen, engage, encourage audiences
  • Be transparent, consistent, trustworthy and relevant when communicating with audiences AND developing content
  • Build your brand ambassadors: 1) Invite audience to participate; 2) Influence audience w/brand; 3) Invite audience to share…Let THEM tell your story
  • Understand that volume doesn’t equal value in the social world
  • Remember you’re building credibility, relationships and trust through your brand

What companies or organizations do you think “gets it” when it comes to digital branding? Have you found yourself evangelizing an unlikely brand online yourself; and how do you think that brand compelled you into action?


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One Response

  1. I saw a SXSWi panel with @TTaxChels from Turbo Tax — they’re moving very fast to catch up with social demands. Some notes I scratched out: Twice as many customers on Twitter this season than last. Within two years, they went from two PR people managing their social media to about 80 staffers assisting/managing at various levels, with PR/social working hand-in-hand with Customer Care (aka customer support — CRITICAL point here: PR & customer support aren’t siloed on social media). And they found that those who interacted with them on social media (perhaps just their Twitter account @TeamTurboTax) were 68% more likely to complete their taxes with Turbo Tax and 70% more likely to recommend Turbo Tax to others. They’d be a great company to study/follow.

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