After spending several eras completing Biblical Scholarship, sadly for marketers, it’s evident that while spending six days creating the human existence, God obviously forgot to deliver the 10 Content Commandments to Moses. Remain calm because all will be well. The other day, Kathleen Turner identified in a succinct guest post that there’s really only one answer to the question, “To Brand or Not to Brand“. So if a product or service must brand, but they’re a bit unclear about how to go about the process, since the big Maker spent more time creating animals two by two instead of thinking about what media content should do, it’s a rather tricky problem. To alleviate this content creation chaos, the below guidelines offer a few ideas concerning how to employ emerging media channels successfully and create stronger brand / consumer relationships. Moses’s tablets were pretty much set in stone, but if there’s a commandment not listed or one you’d like to add, by all means feel free – it’s a rule book that needs continuous revision.
1 Thou Shall Share Willingly
Let’s start with the obvious, the idea driving social media use largely circles around the willingness to share. Although it’s not Kindergarten and we’re not swapping crayons or baseball cards; everyone must come to the table prepared to share to some degree. That’s not to say it’s a free for all give away, but it’s important that a brand creates content which offers helpful suggestions or resources that will empower their consumer community. Sharing quality knowledge willingly supports both the brand/consumer’s best interest; selfishness as we all know is really the bigger sin.
2 Thou Shalt Listen First
Let’s face a 21st century reality, the traditional comment card / suggestion box slip are passe. However actually listening to your customer’s inquiries and answering them to your brand’s best ability always remains en vogue. The countless new emerging media platforms help a brand to open their ears, absorb what consumers discuss, request and dislike then tailor their business model accordingly. When a brand listens, the consumer will share and so a loyal bond gets made.
3 Thou Shall Write Well…
Or not at all. Period. Remember the old adage, Do not speak unless you can improve the silence? The same rule applies when a brand creates content. Don’t ever share poorly written posts, tweets, messages, images, video, blogs, presentations, etc with your consumer community. It’s that simple. This is often the thing that separates an average brand / consumer relationship from a thoughtful brand / consumer relationship. A brand’s consumer community deserves the best quality content available, and as marketers it’s our job to ensure we deliver to that standard. To quote (Rework authors Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson), “Hire the best writers, because they’ll get anything done.” Amen brother.
4 Thou Shalt always Speak Honestly
Every brand worldwide at some point experiences one setback or another; customer complaints, article misquotes, a incorrect tweet – it happens because we’re all human. But thank goodness for honesty, because transparency and owning up to making mistakes tend to alleviate a brand’s woes more often than not. Consider for example, former General Motors CEO Frederick “Fritz” Henderson and how several years ago, he took the time to speak honestly with the consumer community as his company began their Bankruptcy Recovery program. The ‘Ask Fritz‘ initiative addressed over 16,500 customer inquiries within six months. Just remember to aim for honesty, because when a brand fails to be transparent, the consumer community will take note almost instantly.
5 Thou Shall select all Media Platforms Carefully
So what’s the difference between deities and man? Well for one thing man needs more than ambrosia and honey to survive, but more importantly, it’s impossible for man to act omnipresent. The same applies to brands, it’s illogical to think a brand will maintain a quality presence across 20+ media platforms. So before approaching the emerging media space, as a brand, review where and why your consumer community spends time, then allocate resources to creating a powerful presence within those channels. Also continue to review Commandment 3 as needed.
6 Thou Shall Lead by Example
This really applies more to agencies / media firms offering brand services, but consider how the C Level comes across using social media channels. If your company aspires to help clients resolve branding issues using an array of emerging media platforms, then it’s important that your own brand speaks with authority when it comes to social media communication. As marketing practitioners, take a note from the good book, and practice what you tweet, blog, share, post, etc.
7 Thou Shall not Post without Preparation
Barring unforeseeable natural disasters, spontaneous Volcanic ash clouds, and the Armageddon- it’s not possible to over prepare. So when a brand creates content to go live across their various social media channels, make sure to check the old to-do list just one extra time. The person who offers to proof read that new round of tweets, blogs, facebook posts? Take them up on their offer, because once something hits the Internet live, it lives forever. Comparatively taking a few extra minutes to double check things will save everyone a hellacious headache.
8 Thou Shall rise Above Failure Again and Again
As we’ve said before, try as brands might, it’s impossible to exist unflawed so prepare to fail and fail fast. The quicker a brand turns around the online faux pas, answers consumer questions about what went wrong and why it won’t happen again- the consumer community breathes a thankful sigh and life continues. How a brand acts toward adversity speaks volumes toward their attitude and audience relationship.
9 Thou shalt always measure both ROR & ROI
Certain things naturally fit together: Red Wine and Communion Bread, Oreos and Milk, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. When assessing a online media campaign’s progress, it paramount to review both qualitative and quantitative metrics. How many comments matters just as much as how many comments expressed positive / negative / neutral feedback. Does a brand’s Fan / Follower / Subscriber / Connection count all matter? Of course, never forget to review what those individuals share when they send a post / tweet / comment etc. A balanced review means a brand considers these two measurement spheres equally.
10 Thou Shall value all Collected Data
Above all things, this is perhaps the most important commandment. When a brand interacts with the consumer community this exchange produces data, and when a consumer offers vulnerable data about how they connect with a brand, it should be treated respectfully, with great care and securely protected. Violating that trust on any level will generate a level of damage that rivals the Great Flood of 108BC, and there’s no Arc to save a brand when it gets to this point.
Unfortunately, although David Ogilvy wrote some truly great stuff, he ran out of time before finishing the collective Advertising Bible. But nevertheless, these governing commandments will hopefully help steer your brand / agency media efforts toward a clearer, communications path when it comes to content creation concerning your clients. As technology and the digital media space continue to evolve, rules governing how we employ these channels will change accordingly. But by starting the campaign process with a solid foundation and honoring these commandments, we’re working toward the right idea. Moses helped us understand the old school tablets but I think he’d seriously agree with the idea to go forth and market smartly.
As a published Contributing Writer at Large for several publications including AdvertisingWeek.com, Amanda Montgomery reviews and discusses the latest international communication trends concerning Digital Media, Public Relations, Progressive Technology, Advertising, and Marketing. In the past she has worked on both client and agency side leading projects that help explain how to orchestrate and execute strategic, creative and successful brand initiatives using both traditional and emerging media platforms. Amanda will complete her Master’s Degree concentrating on Emerging Media & Communications from the University of Texas-Dallas this December and will continue to write/travel frequently to cover topical media issues worldwide. Connect with her via Twitter @acmontgomery, on LinkedIn @AmandaMongomery or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.