Social Media Changes The Branding Game


Brands abc blocks Do we expect too much from social media and in particular social networks? Marketers anticipate Facebook, Twitter, blogs, video sites a la YouTube, niche communities and now Google+ will not only create awareness, support customer service but increase .. ROI .. revenue. Social media has become a one-stop shop for extending the brand. 

So I got to thinking .. does social media really fit as a branding tactic? First, I guess we better figure out what is this thing called "branding." Barbara Findlay Schenck's post on MSN Business On Main goes into a deep dive about traditional branding. Not only does she tell how to value your brand but provides a few definitions. She describes a brand as ~ Your brand is what people believe about the promise your business upholds and the benefits it consistently delivers

Let's zero in on ~ benefits it consistently delivers. Let's move in closer to the word consistently. Most marketers and branding experts (ah at last we can call someone an "expert" without the world coming to a stop!) would agree that consistently is the secret sauce when it comes to branding. It's what gives us a sense of comfort and security in making that purchase decision. 

There are many elements that build brand offline and in the digital world including the social web. Tactics range from the visual .. consistent logo design across all channels to the strategic .. targeting the same audience in all medias. However, social media adds the dimension of people having conversations. That changes the branding game. 

So I got to thinking .. if social media is about the people/employees behind the brand interacting as their authentic selves, can there still be consistency of brand?  The challenge is how to be yourself in the social web while maintaining the value and promise of your brand.

I like to think of it as adding jimmies (or sprinkles for those of you who didn't grow up in the Boston area) to an ice cream cone. The "brand" is of course the ice cream and the jimmies are the dash of Ice cream cone
extra personality and humanity that people bring to the brand. However, some brands just don't go well with bright pink sprinkles. What can you do if you are a pink person but your brand is mint green? 

Now comes the extra fun part .. You can win $100!

 MSN BOM is providing me with $100 to run a monthly contest. Thank you kindly MSN.  This month's deal. Let's create a list of tips on how a business can use social media for branding.

What is your tip on how to use social media to support branding? The suggestion that Max & I and our special guest judge BL Ochman choose will win 100 dollars

BL&Benny_kiss (3) I am thrilled that internationally, respected, marketer B.L. Ochman has agreed to be our guest judge this month. B.L. has worked with Fortune 500 companies helping them incorporate emerging media as part of their strategy. She is the founder of the popular What's Next Blog and the innovative pet lover's site Paw Fun. Join B.L. on Twitter too! 

To get you started here are .. 

3 Social Media Branding Tips 

1. Build the story of the brand, as well as the brand value and promise, into new employee orientation sessions. 

2. Create an internal communications strategy that keeps all employees up dated about new brand strategies.

3. Ask employees, who are participating in social media how they will be the guardian of the brand, while still being their real self. 

Note: More on social media and branding from Heidi Cohen 

Rules of The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Social Media Branding Tips Contest

1. Post your tip for how to use social media for branding on this Diva Marketing post And on this Business On Main post

2. Identify your post on Business On Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing

4. Contest ends midnight September 15, 2011

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section" of your Diva Marketing comment. (How will I know where to contact you to send your check!)

That's it .. now it's your turn!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Graphics credit: Luster .. the cute ice cream cones are charms and pins.


Trackback url:


I don’t have a magic bullet kind of tip, but I have experience.

In my marketing/PR book, a “brand” is an image associated with a name. You know – Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney – and for small companies it is very difficult to achieve brand status.

Early last year I acquired a client in a niche sector of a vast industry. He wanted to become known (or, as he put it, he wanted to “make noise”) and his interest was mainly in traditional media and traditional PR strategies. He was not particularly interested in Social Media, even though he had a LinkedIn profile. He saw little or no use in having a company page on LinkedIn, consented to having a blog only if I would post (which, reluctantly, I have done – under my own name) and it took me nearly 9 months (yes, it was like birthing a baby!) for me to convince him his business needed a Facebook page.

Now, 20 months after this all got started, he is an avid Social Media advocate (in the forefront of his industry!) and, among other things, loves his Facebook page. His web developer just congratulated me on the progress we have made, by commenting on my “persistence, patience and consistency”. And when I called a policy type in D.C. on behalf of my client this afternoon, the company name was acknowledged with recognition.

So maybe that’s the tip. Be persistent. Be patient. Be consistent. And give it time!

Posted by: Lya Sorano on Aug 30, 2011 3:38:25 PM

This is how powerful social media is. This is one of the reasons why I include social media in my internet marketing.

Posted by: Interactive marketing company on Sep 2, 2011 9:14:12 AM

The power of social media is amazing. I totally agree with this -- "The challenge is how to be yourself in the social web while maintaining the value and promise of your brand." Excellent post! :)

Posted by: Zsa Zsa on Sep 5, 2011 5:17:21 AM

A nice and truely refreshing way of thinking of branding! I'm sure we've all heard about how important branding is etc. especially on social media. Its the big thing that kinda got overbloated and marketers now don't know what to make of it. Most don't even know if branding exercises on social networks have a positive ROI or is just turning the cream into churned butter and nothing more.

Thanks for the refreshing views and keep the truth.

Posted by: Best Social Media on Sep 6, 2011 12:22:25 PM

One way to use social media as a tool for brand exposure is to make your business/brand relevant and more importantly "a part of the conversation".

Finding creative ways to leverage your brand in alignment with today's topics and trends is important. When your brand participates in social media conversations, it creates visibility, credibility and recognition. Applying this technique consistently, gives your brand a better chance of eventually becoming "the" topic of conversation.

Social media is not just a 2-way conversation. Instead it's an initiate stream of emotions, opinions, fiction and facts. Positioning your brand to be an influential instrument in this never ending social symphony is priceless.

Posted by: Malaika Rubin on Sep 7, 2011 10:22:44 AM

Good one, Toby! And a nice reminder to be patient and persistent. A few colleagues and clients of mine acknowledge the eventual value to them of my (hopefully not too obnoxious) nagging on the subject. I am reminded of the old saying "a constant drip wears away stone" - and I know when I say that some will take it as self-deprecating, but that's ok with me if the message eventually bears fruit. :)

Posted by: Des Walsh on Sep 12, 2011 7:47:49 PM

Thanks for the conversation .. as Des says, it's a continuous learning adventure .. and I say on both sides of the fence.

Posted by: Toby Bloomberg - @tobydiva on Sep 12, 2011 8:39:44 PM

I just realised I was commenting on the contribution by Lyn Sorano - but I know you are patient and persistent (in a nice way) too, Toby!

Posted by: Des Walsh on Sep 12, 2011 9:11:38 PM

Branding has always been a two-way conversation. One party (the brand) sent out communications, and the other parties (simplified example) - consumers, employees, investors joined in on the conversation using loyalty/dollars, engagement, and dollars, respectively. SM has made the conversation enriched, faster, more immediate, and much more two-way with more opportunities for all stakeholders to learn, exchange and adapt while building relationships. Integrating SM into the overall brand effort creates more opportunity to gather information and diagnostics on the overall branding effort and its effectiveness in delivering the brand promise with transparency and integrity.

Posted by: Ron Strauss - on Sep 12, 2011 9:13:13 PM

My tip on using social media to develop your brand, is to reveal yourself as "not just a self-promoter" by taking a little extra time to be helpful to those you encounter, and do so NOT just in the niche of your own business. It can help with image-making when you become known as a "good citizen" part of your industry or sub-industry, and not someone focused 24/7 on talking about YOUR OWN self/services/products.

Posted by: Steve Dorfman on Sep 13, 2011 3:37:34 PM

Thanks for the post Toby! I have been following your blog as part of a social media theory class at Syracuse University with @Dr4Ward. Our class hashtag is #NewhouseSM6 if anyone would like to participate in our conversations.

I really think using social media has a lot to do with telling the story of the brand and interacting with consumers or clients. There has to be some level of communication involved in social media. it is not just a way to have a conversation, but also to share ideas and collaborate.


Posted by: Chelsea Aures on Sep 19, 2011 9:29:44 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.