Every brand would love to be in the public eye, like celebrities and pop stars alike. Feel the love; feel passion; feel the desire to connect and engage. Now I don’t think it is likely that brands will reach the level of connection of say Lady Gaga with her audience, but certainly social media, when executed correctly, can increase your audience and the passion they have for your brand.
And yet, it is almost ironic that so many stars that have already reached pinnacle admiration from their audience have failed and/or retreated from social media. Just one case in point – James Franco. Last week, Franco told Policito “Social media is over … You heard it here first.” He went on to say “My thought was ‘this is my Twitter. I can do whatever I want.’ But certain companies I work with contacted me about what I was saying.”
So think about this statement for a second and start to assess the difference between being a brand and being an individual while engaging in the social world. The social world demands that we are always on our game. Just one slip up produces a hurt to reputation. While we definitely need to have a person and personality behind social communication and engagement, brands must not be emotional. They must maintain a strong, rational position. Do not undermine the importance on this! If you represent a brand, and you want to reach celebrity status for your brand you will need to follow this guideline.
From the perspective of celebrities, it doesn’t exactly work that way. When everything is going great, celebrities want to show you their world and open up to the public. When things are not going well (and everyone has their hills and valleys) they prefer their privacy and solitude – rightfully so.
But brands do not have this luxury. Now I am not saying that brands should be deceitful and put “lipstick on a pig.” What I am saying is that brands can not hide in hard times. They must come out and face the music and publicly deal in challenging times. Have we not learned from BP and Toyota?
Brands should use social media in both good times and bad times. Social media is an excellent way to deal with mistakes. People don’t like to do this. Brands must! Want to create the best goodwill with your audience? Want to turn a bad situation into something positive? Use your social to fess up to your brand shortcoming – apologize and state the corrective action taken. Acknowledge that you know there is a problem. Listen to your audience. Convey strong and valid proof that it will never happen again.
And hey, when times are great, we all want to get the word spread. How do you do that? You start by creating informative and entertaining content/media. Not sales-ie stuff. Something of value for your audience. This is your owned media. You must have a plan that integrates your owned media with your paid media and on top of that, produces earned media. (See Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media.)
Last week, in my column “Social Media – Quarterly Review, Q1 – 2011,” I stated that the strength of social media was “the ability to build relationships with your target audience like never before” (as part of my SWOT analysis). I am not sure celebrities really want this. Understandably so, they want their privacy and space.
Brands on the other hand, definitely want this. Once again – people want to know there is a human side to brands’ social efforts. But that personal aspect can not be moody and can never include rants. Think of the personalization of brands’ social endeavors to be carried out by a diplomatic ambassador. Yes, the ambassador(s) can be fun and informal. But they also need to be careful with regards to snarkiness. Remember Kenneth Cole’s botch. Brands must focus on a strategy, plan and execution that build relationships. If they deliver value to those relationships with a humanized rational touch, they can achieve celebrity status. Celebrity status – tons of attention, attraction, and passion from their audience. It takes time – there is no overnight stardom.
Make It Happen,
Footnote – yes there are a number of celebrities using social media well. I would say that those that are successful, approach their individual social media activity more like an individual brand as opposed to their personal side.