“If you don’t like what is being said, then change the conversation.” — Don Draper, Mad Men
The number of ways in which one can market a company is limited only by the imaginations marketing professionals. Despite the best intentions of mailers, flyers, commercials, spots, billboards, and other promotions, far too many companies are tuning out newer media channels, thereby running the risk of letting outsiders control the tone and messaging of their campaigns.
The slogan “Own your own brand” has never been more relevant than it is today, and in this post, I would like to discuss five mistakes companies make when it comes to owning — or failing to own — their brands on the Internet.
1. You Don’t Have a Company Page on Facebook
Facebook is a giant in the world of business-to-consumer marketing. Of the top ten thousand highest ranked websites in the world, nearly a quarter use some form of Facebook plugin on their sites. Either in the form of a button, a comment feed, or a fan conversion campaign, there are a plethora of ways for people to interact with your brand in a positive way via Facebook.
For example, let’s say a customer buys a pack of Ball Park Franks and snaps a picture of someone eating one. Then, they share that photo on Facebook and tag the company. The average Facebook use has 130 friends on the platform, and there is a good chance that at least one of the hypothetical customer’s friends will search for Ball Park Franks the next time they visit the grocery story, simply because they saw the brand highlighted on a friend’s post. Moreover, if any of the customer’s connections click on the company’s tag in the post, they’ll be directed to a branded and brand-controlled Facebook page for further interaction.
But if a company doesn’t have any presence on Facebook, it won’t have the ability to direct consumers to brand-controlled spaces.
Users who search for a company on Facebook are greeted with a list of mentions from across the platform. Businesses that create actual company pages immediately jump to the top of these search results, where they can further solidify their credibility with high-resolution photos, logos, and taglines. If no company account exists, then every negative comment or inappropriate piece of content mentioning the company gets weighed equally alongside a a non-descriptive listing of the organization, leaving visitors with an unclear or potentially negative view of the company.
It behooves every organization to have a Facebook company page, if only to guide viewers away from such potentially harmful information.
2. You Haven’t Locked the Comments Section on YouTube
I am a huge champion of multimedia content, but for all intents and purposes, let’s assume that this section applies only to video platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Snapchat, and the like. Each of these platforms offers unique ways to interact with your audience, but the one benefit they all share is the proven ability to increase engagement with your brand and elicit a specific action or reaction from your followers (for evidence, see this great post on the 23 definitive stats regarding the power of online video marketing).
For all the good these sites can do, it is vitally important to realize that all video platforms thrive on some sort of user engagement within the page. This means that, on a given video, there could be multiple places for users to comment on, reply to, or disrupt your message.
So, a marketing manager is left with two choices: one, scrutinize every post and ensure that comments are turned off; two, assign someone to reply to respondents and engage them in a more constructive discussion. Our organization opts for the first approach, but if you have the personnel, definitely consider these locations as additional points of engagement with your audience.
3. You Aren’t Overseeing Your Company on Glassdoor
One of the massively successful trends in hiring and social media in the last few years has been the opening up of human resources to outside parties through company review platforms. A flagship example of this is the employer-branding site Glassdoor. The core objective of Glassdoor and sites like it is to give potential employees the chance to research a given company. Information about a company and its hiring process is freely given by Glassdoor’s users, who are either past or present employees or active candidates considering working at the company. Glassdoor is so powerful a tool that half of all job seekers use it.
But without company participation, the comments section on Glassdoor can get a little nasty.
This hazard is easily avoided by creating an account and appointing someone as the company’s Glassdoor liaison. Insist that employees complete company evaluations on Glassdoor and that managers review the material to effect positive change and address identified concerns.
The reviews are anonymized to protect the employees and applicants who share information, and the analytical tools provided to companies via Glassdoor can point to greater trends like losses in confidence in leadership or pay disparities within the staff.
Own this information by being proactive and insisting that your employees keep up with their profiles. With any luck, the next person through your door may have seen your company and its great Glassdoor rating before deciding to apply to work there!
4. You Don’t Rank Your Followers on Twitter
Twitter, for the uninitiated, can feel a little like a visit to the community swimming pool, where hundreds of people are yelling over one other constantly. Because people can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of information presented on Twitter, an entire industry of service-oriented software applications have arisen to help people cut through the noise, allowing users to have meaningful discussions and interactions amid all the chaos.
More seasoned users have their preferred applications for these purposes, but as a benchmark for people looking to employ Twitter tools to improve their company’s branding on the site, let me impart some advice: if the solution doesn’t tell you who follows your account most closely, leave it behind. The most successful Twitter campaigns begin with the people who regularly interact with your brand.
Focus your attention on those people who retweet, follow, favorite, and mention your content. Use them as a sounding board to tweak and refine your message.
Engaging regularly with your top followers on Twitter can help you ensure that your company’s voice spreads through the platform, carried by the users who love your brand.
5. Your Company Website Doesn’t Communicate With Social Sites
Facebook estimates that approximately 30 million small businesses have Facebook pages. These companies use their pages to advertise products, promote sales, tell fans what they are working on, and push out inspiring quotes.
Users thank companies for this information through engagement, and while likes and follows are great interactions, there is a more coveted prize to be had here: linkbacks.
Every time a piece of content is traced back to your site, search engines note the link connecting back to your site and increase the value attributed to your domain. You need to ensure, however, that your content can be traced back to you. Otherwise, you may not get credit for the content that your staff has painstakingly curated.
Getting this credit can be done through simple means, like installing a social plugin bar that lets users know your brand exists on other platforms or making direct references to a piece on content that exists on your site via a specific URL. Posting this content to your social media platforms hooks you into the most popular websites in the world, like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. These websites don’t just give you greater reach — they also let more people reach back to you.
It’s always a good idea to delve into the depths of social media strategy and come back awash with good information. Owning your brand begins here, in the act of recognizing your mistakes and then striving to correct them. But above all else, remember: even if you are not running a conversation about your company somewhere, that doesn’t mean a conversation isn’t taking place. It is — just without you there to control your brand’s messaging. So get out there and engage!