It looks like there may be a new hiring criteria in the future if Steve Rubel’s thoughts expressed at the Mediabistro Circus are on target and there is evidence that they are. Internetnews.com reports that Rubel’s talk to this group centered on how brands are moving away from the company and more toward people who are the face of the company, i.e. social media front facers who speak on behalf their employer.
Branding is about people, not company names, according to Steve Rubel, Edelman Digital director of insights, Web PR veteran, and author of the Micro Persuasion blog
Some of the highlights include
- E-mail losing its effectiveness – Press releases sent by e-mail are just part of the e-mail clutter that exists due to sheer volume received and the other outlets that people have like Twitter, texting, RSS etc., etc. He then asked
“How many of you have experienced ‘e-mail bankruptcy,’ where you delete all unread e-mails and assume that if any message was important, the person will contact you again?”
- Websites are not the answer – The expectation that people will flock to your web site for information is one that many hold on to but it’s simply not as common as marketers want it to be. It’s likely that a similar ‘information overload’ scenario is playing out there as well.
People are the new brand – Here’s where the rubber meets the road. In a study conducted by Edelman it was found that the most trusted information from a company comes from:
Stock or industry analyst reports – 47%
Articles in business magazines – 44%
Conversations with your friends and peers – 40%
Conversations with company employees – 40%
A company’s own web site – 24%
Corporate or product advertising – 13%
Across the board trust about corporate information has dropped significantly from ’08 to ’09. The exception are those that weren’t measured last year including the conversations with company employees.
A personal experience here. I recently read about how GM is trying to reposition itself in the wake of all of this financial mess with a new ad campaign. The ads are on message with the music and the voiceover but the images actually detract from the experience. I don’t need to see the Pittsburgh Steeler’s QB in an ad about reinvention of a car company. Trouble is the campaign comes across as a “Meet the new boss, it’s the same as the old boss” (tip of the hat to The Who for that one).
My wife, who is not a Fortune 500 marketer asked regarding the GM push, “Wouldn’t it be more effective to have commercials that focus on the people whose jobs depend on turning the company around? Wouldn’t it be more impactful to hear about an assembly line worker who is working their tail off to make a better product, so people will buy the product and thus preserve their job?” I agree with her. Not because she’s wife but because that makes sense. Personally, I would pay attention to that message. This GM campaign is just more company speak and less personal speak. To me, they still don’t get it.
So back to the point of people being a brand. There are companies that are embracing this concept successfully. Comcast’s Frank Eliason and his team get a lot of attention for their work on behalf of their brand. QuickenLoans is doing it as well.
Rubel pointed to Eliason and others as the beginning of this trend. Another is “Kelly” @Quickenloans. Rubel noted an exchange between Kelly and a realtor called Jody Zink that started on May 22, with a tweet by Zink saying, “Just say no to Quicken Loans. There’s nothing QUICK about it” and ended with her tweeting “Thanks for your help, Kelly. We are closed!” on May 28.
“This isn’t customer service,” said Rubel. “This is branding.”
While there there is significant benefit from the customer service and customer retention side of the coin Rubel makes an interesting point
“All of this is seen by the gods of Google,” said Rubel. He noted that Comcast’s Eliason now ranks higher in Google search than a famous video titled A Comcast Technician Sleeping on my Couch that had over 1.3 million views at press time.
So what do companies do? Rubel’s final points for companies to be considering as social media morphs into the branding space
- Find your social media all-stars
- Connect your customers to the all-stars
- Give their all-stars independence
- Give them the equipment and support they need in order to do active listening on social media.
Lots to think about over the weekend, huh?