At some point we pit advertising and social media against each other when we should have been marrying those core advertising messages with meaningful social development all along. They’re forbidden lovers, those two.
For most brands, there are limitations to what can be accomplished with no advertising at all. Google advertises. Zappos is hiring an ad agency. We know when we advertise sales go up, and when we stop, it’s much more difficult to reach expectations.
This is why we need to get better at wedding these two worlds. Developing and evolving brands to help them become more conversational, meaningful and culturally able to cope with this new landscape, but still using that core of interestingness to focus a brand’s appeal.
The idea of Social Branding starts by slowly transforming away from a world where reach and frequency are king, but still takes the best pieces of what’s worked before.
Particularly for brands with deeply ingrained bureaucracies, we need to slowly and tediously replace the levels of process, the fear of the off-message, the red tape, with transparency, open communication and the encouragement of experimentation.
But those changes can be juiced from the other side as well. Those pretty advertising messages are often a company’s most recognizable outward expression of who they are. As such they certainly can go a long way in helping change how a company sees itself internally, too. Not dissimilar-ly to how you might feel in a new pair of jeans. Certainly not enough to be truly different, but probably enough to make you feel good about those 5 pounds you lost and give you the confidence to lose 5 more.
So this is where we are. We need to find the center of what makes companies interesting and different. We need to help companies build cultures based on sharing and transparency. We can help corporations feel much smaller by understanding how to peel back the layers and reveal the soul. It’s the humanizing elements that allow us to get to building the outward expressions that make the change feel more real to those both on the inside and outside.
It’s that soul that can help us find the motivating message, that focused positioning that moves people to get beyond just liking us and get to liking to buy from us. And from there, we can build the platforms for conversation, insert the people and new processes that make our communication more cumulative and extendable. And only then will our outreach work that way it truly can.