What Is Greening The Corporate Website?

March 31, 2010

makeup brush touchup 300x201 What Is Greening The Corporate Website?

Once upon a time, Ugh raised the deer’s thighbone high above his head and brought it crashing down upon the head of a passing rabbit.  Yum yum, rabbit stew for dinner and a nice new woolly patch to keep the cold from his nether regions.

At that moment in time, had Ugh and all his species killed one rabbit simultaneously the rabbit population wouldn’t even have been dented.

Fast forward a hundred thousand years or so, and if all of Ugh’s adult descendants in the UK killed a rabbit, there’d barely be any left.

This, put simply, is sustainability.  The desire … nay, imperative … to take out of natural cycles only what can be replaced.  It is not a solution for all time but we’re currently using 3 times the number of rabbits which actually exist.  That, surely, can’t be sensible.

What has this to do with green websites though?

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Consumers Want Transparent, Honest, Socially Responsible Brands

March 31, 2010

socially responsible brands Consumers Want Transparent, Honest, Socially Responsible BrandsEarlier this year, I wrote a post here on the Corporate Eye Blog called 2010 – The Year of Brand Transparency, Honesty and Trust, and now, research is in that supports that prediction. Weakened economies and uncertainty have caused consumers to be less naive in terms of simply believing marketing messages, and the power of the social Web in boosting global communications to new heights of access and information sharing has created a new world where consumer expectations are less accepting and more “prove it to me” than ever before.

According to an article on Brandweek, A new study by Landor Associates, Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller reports that, “75% of consumers believe social responsibility is important, and 55% of consumers said they would choose a product that supports a particular cause against similar products that don’t.”

The study also revealed some opportunities for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition not just with cause marketing and socially responsible programs but through education.  Many consumers still don’t understand what “corporate social responsibility” is.  At the same time, many consumers in the aforementioned study revealed they would be willing to pay more for products from a socially responsible company — as much as $10 more.  The opportunity to educate consumers about a socially responsible brand, differentiate it from the competition as such, and attach a premium price to it could be significant.

Furthermore, 50% of 18-34 years olds surveyed in this study claimed that they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.  That leads one to believe that socially responsible brand messages could have a bigger effect on brand building and sales in specific, younger demographics.  Again, this is an opportunity to craft effective messages for specific audience segments.

Consumers have changed over the course of the past few years.  Your branding and marketing messages need to change with them.

Europe Ahead of U.S. in Social Media Usage

March 31, 2010

A study released by Nielsen earlier this year shows that the British and Australians use social media more than Americans. As the image below shows, the United States ranked third in October 2009 based on the amount of time people spent on social media sites per day. Both Australia and Britain came out ahead of the United States in terms of social media usage.

Nielsen Social Media Usage Study Europe Ahead of U.S. in Social Media Usage

It’s interesting to note from this chart, however, that there are great gaps in social media usage from one European country to the next. Clearly, social media marketing strategies must account for these nuances. Furthermore, according to an article on The Economist earlier this year, two-thirds of the 350 million Facebook users are outside of the United States, so there is no doubt that social media marketing should be a global strategy for marketers.

These social media usage statistics are very important to companies looking to expand globally or within targeted international geographic areas. Blanket social media marketing strategies won’t work. Just as social media usage varies by age, it also differs by location.

Do your research and make sure you understand how your target audience is using social Web tools before you develop and launch social media marketing campaigns. While it’s still very difficult to measure social media marketing results, it’s much easier to learn how people use social Web tools and then tailor programs to match those behaviors.

How to Avoid Hurting Your Social Media Image

March 30, 2010

On Thursday, March 11, 2010, CNN.com published a news piece about how a soldier possibly leaked covert information about a military operation that could have tipped off the enemy and given them an advantage over what they were trying to accomplish. Here is a blurb of what the soldier blogged:

“On Wednesday, we are cleaning up (the village). Today – arrest. On Thursday, God willing, we will be home,” the soldier, who was not identified, posted on the social networking site, according to IDF. (Source: CNN.com)

No Harm, No Foul?

socialnetworkingcorporate eye 300x225 How to Avoid Hurting Your Social Media Image

The division commander of the unit decided to cancel the operation altogether rather than risk any undue harm or surprise attacks from their enemy. The soldier was reprimanded for stepping out of line and divulging information that could hurt people and plans. Although it wasn’t a very smart move, wouldn’t you say that the soldier was just doing what the rest of online socialites and news hounds are doing? He was just reporting the news, what he saw, how things looked and what could be next. Surely there is no harm in that….is there?

Evidently there WAS some harm in what the soldier posted on Facebook, enough to have him sentenced to ten days imprisonment and for the entire operation to be scrapped. I’d say it was pretty darned serious and harmful.

Corporate Sites Should Tread Lightly

Although social sites like Facebook and Twitter are enormously popular and beneficial for businesses, there are some rough, unwritten (in most cases) guidelines that online businesses and corporate media departments should observe in order to avoid embarrassing situations like these. It’s also to ensure that the best quality and accurate information is provided in every post and in every communication that is made with their customer.

The soldier reported the facts, plain and simple. There wasn’t any conjecture or opinion, but he updated his Facebook status based on what he saw at the time. The only thing that was inaccurate here, if there can be such a thing, is that the IDF soldiers are prohibited from posting, tweeting and updating their status or in any other format that contains classified information. That’s also plain and simple, however it seems that the soldier refused to acknowledge that guideline nugget. As for corporate media departments, cases like this can also happen and can cause just as much embarrassing and sometimes irrevocable damage. How can this be avoided?

1. Corporate media employees

Assign one to two persons only in your corporate media department to work the social media angle and get news stories published on your website. There can and should be a committee if necessary, but only allow key individuals to actually make the posts or upload them to the site. This gives the site’s editors time to review the piece and make sure that it represents the corporate entity accurately and positively. Had someone reviewed the soldier’s post beforehand…

2. Develop Posts

Be clear to the editors what kinds of posts you want to represent on your site. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that they should “know”, but actually spell out to them your expectations and quality level that you expect. Although the soldier may have been aware of his disregard, it was too late after he had posted it. By making sure that everyone understands what is and what is not acceptable can save you a lot of grief and embarrassment for future times.

3. Resource Availability

Limit availability to networking resources within your department. Allow the writers and online executives to be themselves of course, but have a system in place that will block and allow the parameters that you set. For instance, do you prefer to read ALL blog posts before being published? Set this up so that there are several sets of eyes on the post before it goes live to the social networking sites.

Embarrassing situations can happen to any company, especially online. Has anything like this or similar to this ever happened in your corporate media department? How did you handle it? What guidelines does your corporate structure have in place regarding social media and how to handle situations when they arise?

Branding from Within – The Importance of Internal Brand Building

March 26, 2010

megaphone Branding from Within – The Importance of Internal Brand BuildingDo your employees know your brand promise? Do they know your primary brand message and what your brand’s image is? Do they know how your brand is positioned relative to similar brands on the market?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, then you need to spend time building your brand from within your organization. Employees are the strongest brand advocates, but they can’t advocate your brand effectively if they don’t understand it or buy into it.

Following are ten suggestions to help you build your brand internally:

  1. Create a Twitter account using CoTweet.com where multiple employees can get involved with external branding efforts and other employees can learn more about the brand. You can also create private Twitter groups that your employees can join and you can share branding messages using a tool like GroupTweet.com.
  2. Get a Flip video camera (or hire a video producer) and interview employees about your brand. Share stories on an internal Web page.
  3. Create private social networking groups for employees and communicate branding messages.
  4. Create printed materials that teach employees about your brand in an entertaining fashion rather than like a training guide.
  5. Interview customers and share their feelings about your brand with employees.
  6. Explain how your brand is different from competitors.
  7. Create branded experiences for employees where they can share the brand just like consumers do.
  8. Encourage employees to join social networking groups, join Twitter, and write blogs where they can advocate your brand. Just be sure to create social media guidelines for employees. There are hundreds of Google employee blogs. If Google can do it, so can you.
  9. Make sure your employees are motivated to use your branded products and services. How would it look if a Starbucks employee drank Dunkin’ Donuts coffee? You don’t want a similar faux pas to happen with your employees.
  10. Hire a Chief Brand Officer to lead the initiative.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with internal branding efforts. If your employees don’t believe in your brand, why should consumers?

Image: Flickr

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