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May 7th, 2010

Social Media Breakfast, Boston- Creating Brand Advocates

I consider it a privilege, living in Boston, to be associated with one of the most active, creative and just plain smart groups of social media thinkers in the world. One of our regular gatherings s the Social Media Breakfast, which takes place in many cities, but was founded (as was PodCamp) right here in Boston. The latest SMB revolved around discussion of “Creating Brand Advocates on the Social Web.”

Kyle Flaherty at #smb17

Flickr Photo by Tyson Goodridge

The panelists, led by host Bob Collins (along with Communispace, who provided the venue) were:

Aaron based much of his talk on his recent blog post, “I See You” (yes, lifting a theme from Avatar). He concentrated on how brands can create advocates simply by treating people well. You see, you never know when that new Starbucks FourSquare mayor you just made a fuss about has a husband with thousands of Twitter followers, or if the the person iPadio gives a little extra attention to for trying out their audio posting service is the aforementioned connected husband with an audience.

Of course, one of the problems with this is that indeed, you don’t know; usually. but the outlay, and the room for error in targeting, is much lower- and of course word of mouth takes many forms. For the next step– is there a way to make focusing on influencers more predictable and targeted?

Kyle started out talking about B2B and brand advocacy, but concentrated on what I deem to be more internal communications issues. He recounted Breaking Point’s recent re-branding, and the challenge of getting all employees on the same page vis-a-vis the new messaging and tag lines, so that that each individual’s social media channel would reflect the same thing as the others’ and the company’s.
To me this points out two things:
  • Every employee is a potential spokesperson. This was always true in that people speak about their employers at cocktail parties and all sorts of pre-social media interactions. Social media intensifies the scope of that truism and makes it more urgent to “media train” all employees, but it’s not truly new.
  • These employees are a great informal focus group on your messages- are they simple enough to understand, do they resonate- and do they pass muster with people who by their employment entrust part of their reputation with the company’s image?
Edward pulled out a more elaborate presentation, “Five Things That Work in Social Media” (the link gives you all his slides along with his recap).
In essence, he concentrated on content, and how that should not only engage the  audience, but also create experiences. For me, he represented the possibilities of “advertising’s” value to social media, getting past the too-clever-for-their-own-good feeling of much traditional advertising, and putting extreme creativity to work in real interactive social settings. And most importantly, do this “with a smile on your face.” I’ll call this the Tom Sawyer Corollary of User-Generated Content; make it look like fun and people will do it.
There were a couple of argument points attendees and panelists raised that are worth repeating here. The first: do people engage on Facebook Pages or off of them, and how do you capture this engagement- or even, due to the way Facebook is constructed, know the difference?
The other was the notion of “no control.” I have always been bothered by people who say social media means you have no control over your message, and label it as a dumb myth. Message “control” still exists, but requires certain things, notably:
  • A good product/service
  • A well-crafted message that will resonate with people, and that they will adopt as their own rather than feel they must craft something better
  • The tone in which this message is delivered (a newer addition to my usual rant on this topic)
  • The company’s participation

The Social Media Breakfast takes place in some three dozen cities – visit the main site, http://www.socialmediabreakfast.com/, to see iof there is one in your city coming up- and support it!

About the Author
Doug Haslam is a Supervisor on the Voce Connect Client Services team, managing client programs and developing strategy. In addition to Voce Nation, Doug writes his own personal blog and you can find him on Twitter as @dough.

Filed in Events, Voce People

Add Your Comment2 Responses to “Social Media Breakfast, Boston- Creating Brand Advocates”

Tyson on May 8th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Doug- great recap, and that’s an awesome picture up there BTW… :-) I had the same experience with ipadio as well- terrific engagement and personal touch…

Doug Haslam on May 12th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Tyson– thanks– We only use the finest photography here at Voce Nation. I found the same with iPadio– though I should add I have a lot of great interactions with brands large and small– and it doesn’t necessarily take place on Twitter.

One example- Joby, makers of the Gorillapod mini-tripod, responded immediately ia Email to my product issue. It spilled over to Twitter merely because I felt compelled to call them out for thir great response (and they responded there as well).