Social Media for Social Entrepreneurs: Chris Murphy and Relax Bear
At the most recent session of the Social Innovation Incubator Circuit Program, Chris Murphy, director of brand communications and digital marketing for Adidas US, spoke to the importance of social media in business. As the brand identity and reputation of organizations are increasingly defined online, social media has become an essential tool to manage that process. It’s often said that ”your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”–but social media now enables you to put your ear to the wall.
Why is it so important to manage your brand identity online? The typical Facebook user has 100 friends. That means for each person engaging with your brand on Facebook, 100 people will see that action. Every positive—or negative—engagement has a huge multiplier effect in social media. Remind your customers how they can engage in a positive way—add Pinterest, Facebook “like,” and “tweet this” links to your pages. Enable Facebook connect tools on your website from launch, if possible. Give your customers every opportunity to use that multiplier effect to your advantage.
Your probably know (or fear) that takes more than just adding “like” links to your website to effectively utilize social media, but the number of tools out there can be daunting. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. MySpace. Pinterest. Digg. Reddit. How can anyone, especially a social entrepreneur with bigger problems on their mind, find the time to learn and use so many tools? The good news is, most of your stakeholders don’t use all these tools—they only use a few. If you know your target customer demographics, you can easily find out what types of social media they use.
Teenagers, for example, are very active on Facebook but tend not to engage as much on Twitter. Pinterest is extremely popular among women, especially younger, affluent mothers. Video-sharing sites like YouTube are visited more by African-American and Hispanic internet users than by white users. You don’t have to worry about everyone on the internet. Just figure out where your stakeholders are having conversations online, and go join them.
Once you know what tools to use, you need to learn how to use them effectively. Let your customers and stakeholders drive online conversations about your brand. Don’t try to control the conversation, but contribute to it in an authentic way. If your organization is being criticized online, resist the urge to become involved—that only tends to escalate the situation. Instead, rely on the fast pace of online discussion to move the conversation to other topics, and let your brand advocates defend you when necessary.
So how do you end up with those advocates? Be authentic, relaxed, and transparent. There’s no reason not to be transparent: consumers trust people more than brands, so act like a person. Thank people for sharing or retweeting—it makes them feel good and increases the likelihood they’ll share that item with their friends again. Asking questions of your followers is another great way to get them to engage. You can even send gifts to your most vocal or influential fans online. It gives them a reward and encourages them to support your brand even more.
Most importantly, don’t stress over social media. Take a cue from Relax Bear, and just chill out. Your customers, stakeholders and beneficiaries will thank you for it.