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Three Ways Brand is Being Redefined in Social Networking

As the world starts to move from a primarily vertical — command and control — system for creation value to a more horizontal — connect and collaborate — value creation model, and as we blow away more walls, ceilings and floors at the same time, societies are going to find themselves facing a lot of very profound changes all at once. But these changes won’t just affect how business gets done.

They will affect how individuals, communities, and companies organize themselves, where companies and communities stop and start, how individuals balance their different identities as consumers, employees, shareholders, and citizens, how people define themselves politically, and what role government plays in managing all of this flux.”

Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat

It was just a couple of years ago when I went to networking events that people would walk up to me and say, “I hear your name everywhere. But what surprises me is that I hear it from different people I know–people who I know, don’t know one another. What are the chances of that happening?” Today that statement would probably not come out many peoples’ mouths do to the rapid learning we have had around social networking. Now we know that six degrees of separation have now, when done right, turned into, rather, “Two Degrees of Connection.”

So what are some things around branding that if you leverage you can make useful for you and your organization? Here are just three to start with:

  1. You are now more the brand than your employer–if you choose to be. Today employees, whether they realize it or not, are their companies brands even if they are no longer employees. Why? Well, if you are one of the millions who have a profile on LinkedIn your name can pull up along with your company’s name as readily as any article on your company–even if you are no longer employeed by your company. Remember that LinkedIn asks you in your profile to list past employers. Now that listing is part of Google or any other search engine search and stays there, for the most part, forever. 
  2. With the combination of “Brand You” and company brand organizations can grow brand equity and loyalty exponentially. I was recently working with one of the top construction companies in Chicago. I was hosting a social media workshop and shared that if they rallied their fifty current employees and had them focus on the good things they were doing in the community already, potential clients would see that the organization was dedicated to making a difference and would stand out from their competitors. It gave their employees a focus for their social activities–one that would also grow each employee’s career as they got recognition for their good work.
  3. Brand is now becoming a much bigger topic that companies and individuals MUST pay attention to daily. Two weeks ago I was at a talk for senior vice presidents of leadership at companies like UPS, Home Depot and Marriott. These were HR executives wondering about how to effectively build internal networks within their organizations. My team and I had done about six months of research on the growing interest but slow moving implementation compared to marketing departments, HR departments had around social networking. What our research showed was that there is a strong need for organizations to realize the convergence of marketing and HR. Why?What is happening is that companies are attracting or repelling new hires based on their social capital score if you will. Why would new hires want to work at a company that they can easily see has hundreds of communication bottlenecks and walls? All an employee has to do now is listen to one of the grapevines on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. and know which companies have more open networks. Also, you can easily look on any of the company pages on LinkedIn and compare a company with any of their competitors. You can tell a lot from the levels of individuals who have many connections on LinkedIn which organizations have the better networkers. Why wouldn’t you want to be at those organizations? Wouldn’t you want to go to a live networking event  where is higher level management present? Now you can tell which companies have the best networks and join those organizations. So, now, with the science of networks as I call it staring us straight in the face, playing out every day inside and outside of companies–it is very self evident that companies need to take a look at their branding and realize just as the saying used often was, “Everyone in an organization is a sales person.” Now it will be, “Everyone in an organization is active in branding.” The best thing organizations large and small can do is to realize that you must involve not just the marketing department but sales, human resources, IT, accounting and so on and so on.  

Do you have something more to add?  What other questions to you have? 

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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