Social Media is a phrase that everyone knows or has heard, and it’s certainly being thrown around by seemingly everyone who has a heartbeat and a pulse these days, and yet sometimes it’s hard to answer the question about social networks. If Facebook, MySpace, and Wikipedia are social networking sites, what are social networks? Perhaps the best way to define social networks is to divide them. The media are an instrument used for communication, such as radio, a newspaper and television, and social networks would be a social instrument of communication.
In Web 2.0 terms, you receive information as that information interacts with you. Interaction can be anything from comments to rating a product or items, and thus the beauty of social media: it’s a two-way street that gives you the opportunity to communicate while you’re engaged on that site. There was a time when it was commonly held that no one could sell high priced items online, or anything else of real value, but that time has come and gone. More than three-quarters of US online adults made a purchase over the Web.
Nearly 4 in 10 online shoppers have made a travel purchase and more than a third have managed their bank or credit accounts online. The American Express Publishing and Harrison Group report “The Second Annual Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America” found that 70% of surveyed American consumers with more than $100,000 in discretionary household income prefer shopping online to the in-store experience. store. The same number (70%) also go online to research products, compare prices and make purchases.
This penchant for online shopping could very well be a case of time equals money. More specifically, the retail experience has changed in character. For example, the introduction of online retail has significantly changed the overall shopping experience. The term e-tail encompasses many different experiences such as grocery e-tail, auction e-tail or specialty e-tail and many others. But now there is a new experience on the rise and it has been added to online shopping, which is the rise of online electronic luxury.
So what has caused this sudden growth in online luxury? This new growth is due in large part to the fact that most wealthy Internet users in the United States are optimistic about the economy, according to Ipsos Mendelsohn, and their online spending has historically been higher than average. That should make everyone happy and present an attraction for retailers, who have increased their attention to social media to attract customers. But does this mean that the wealthy will be as receptive to social marketing as other Web users? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. According to a study by Unity Marketing, the picture is mixed. But as confidence among the wealthy about the economy grows, the wealthy will drive online spending. Believe it or not, the wealthy are leading the way in e-commerce recovery, and that leads to another interesting point I’d like to make.
In the past, the communication teams of most corporations were responsible for protecting and preserving the reputation of the corporation. However, with the enormous popularity of social media, every department in your company can play a huge role in branding, monitoring and protecting your corporate image and reputation, starting with your Human Resources department. One of the biggest challenges for HR executives is breaking down the walls that some corporations put up simply because there is a belief or policy to allow only their communications departments to represent the company and its brand identity. In some companies the wall is big. But there is a way to take it down, if one has the right tools. Except in a few cases, most companies offer largely undifferentiated products and services; airlines, for example, fly their planes over and over again, while serving the same food, and retail stores offering the same merchandise.
In many ways, your brand strategy is simply your business strategy. Frankly speaking, a brand is a promise to consumers to provide a specific level of service, value and quality that they can expect and receive. Think of a brand as a pact between a company and its customers. Branding expert Martin Lindstrom said it best when he said, “Big brands and religions have one thing in common: the idea of defeating a shared enemy.”
Today’s media approach to branding a company’s message to the consumer has greatly improved, with all the social media platforms out there today, one thing is for sure: if the promise is not kept, customers they will flee and go elsewhere. A classic example is Eastern Airlines, which promised to “earn your wings every day” through superior customer service while also canceling flights, losing luggage, and serving passengers horrible food. As a direct result, trust between customers and the airline was irrevocably broken, passengers were boycotted, and eventually Eastern Airlines went out of business and destroyed the brand forever.
What went wrong? Eastern Airlines failed to align their employee behavior with the brand promise, and that brings me to my first piece of advice for anyone building a brand; understand that your ad copy is not delivering on your brand promise, nor is it your product; your brand promise is delivered by your people.
Herein lies the opportunity for HR to break down the walls and get in on the brand game, helping to ensure that every action big and small that people across the business take every day, across the organization, are in line with brand strategy.
Finally, use these seven tips to further enhance your position and share of company brand identity, ensuring your company and brand will last for years and be in business for years to come.
Top 7 Strategies and Tips for Engaging with HR Department Company Branding to Reach the Rich:
- Conduct interviews as if you were using a crystal ball. Look deeper and ask questions that lead to future answers.
- During interviews, start thinking about the big picture: Convey how corporate reputation affects all aspects of the company’s business, including the hiring and firing process.
- Create a company policy focused on conduct and disclosure, and offer it to the communications department to implement outside of your office and department.
- Understand how fast information moves online and be prepared to respond quickly if a problem arises online.
- Check social networking sites before you interview and learn about the social behavior of the job seeker at the company before you hire them.
- Keep your temper in check and never badmouth anyone who uses social media and check to see if the potential new hire has done the same. Remember that your bad comments will overcome your temper.
- Think about the future. Try to predict how announcements, policy changes, ad campaigns, and world events may affect your organization, while participating to lead a reputation crisis.
Keeping these helpful tips and strategies in mind will go a long way in the process of engaging and supporting an HR executive with brand strategies. Ten years ago it would not have been possible for this type of intelligent departmental interaction to be feasible.
As an HR executive, you can take advantage of this opportunity to reach the affluent consumer by incorporating social media and monitoring into your communication plans today.