Media140 - Guest Post write up from Sarah Blow
By Stewart Townsend on Oct 30, 2009
The other day I was one of the lucky few with the opportunity to attend the Media140 Branding event over at RIBA in London. The event was aimed at media professionals and the majority of the audience were PR agencies and branding professionals.
Having spoken to a number of the attendees I would have to say there were as many experts in the audience with interesting things to say on Branding, building a brand and representing the brand on Twitter and related tools as there were on stage. The content that was provided on the stage was only a small part of what was actually shared and the #media140 twitter stream provided a raft of additional conversation and content.
So what came up at the event... And what did not... Here's a few of my notes:
Rather than engaging directly with communities the general consensus for agencies represented by the speakers and panels was that you should seek out those that influence rather than those that look after, or run communities. This was an interesting perspective from my point of view as a community owner through Girl Geek Dinners and as a brand advocate with TweetMeme. I have to say that in some ways the community leaders are also to some degree influencers but not in the traditional agency approach. It's interesting to hear how the agencies see influencers in terms of followers and retweet reach rather than people who can direct a mass of people towards a brand. I'm sure I'll be writing more on this in the future!
The acceptance of a brand seems to be directly related to respecting the privacy of individuals and engaging at a relevant point, not at random or at a point suited to the brand owner. Brands don't seem to be accepted unless they are honest and open... Transparency is key. The issue of transparency came up many times across all the panel discussions.
Transparency of the conversation became really important+, who are you talking with if you are talking to a brand... Brands being personal came up a lot and the conversations flowed around being a brand on Twitter versus being an individual on twitter that happened to work for a brand. Consumers were less rude with individuals who worked for a company than they did with a company that was represented on twitter.
"richard baker of Virgin Trains gets fewer abusive comments than @virgintrains - are people rude to brands over people?"
How do you converse or shout at people who you want to engage and purchase your brand products? After all that really is what you are after right? Is it all about conversation or is it about shouting out to get your brand heard and noticed. The Habitat example got a fair bit of time at today's event. Along with Ryanair. Both were seen as examples of brand failure today due to negative press but as the stats show negative press can result in the case of Ryanair as positive sales as people hear the brand name and recognize it. So does that still mean that all press is good press. It certainly suggested that TV and newspapers still have the greater traction and action as a result of them. But could over time Twitter, Facebook etc actually be better and provide a faster route to a sale... The answer still hangs in the air on that one at the moment with a lack of stats on conversion rates.
There was a lot of conversation around the brand identity getting lost on Twitter with too many Twitter accounts and people not knowing which account or even if they should be tweeting to an account to get a response or go through formal methods such as a call centre to get a response. Today's wifi and subsequent BT wireless failure was a classic example of this. The issue was tweeted and a promise of it being rectified was made via twitter but the Wifi never did come back up properly. The issue was said to be with BT for the whole of the local area. So would they have been better off calling in the issue... I guess we will never know and this is the same sort of experience most customers have with brands on Twitter. Then you have the situation where brands are represented by individuals such as @kerryfromDell compared to @innocentdrinks where lots of people are under one brand name. Personally I went looking for @innocentsmoothies and guess what... I probably wasn't the only one... Identifying the brand and finding them can be as hard as finding out their rules of engagement. These should be clear and concise... Do you just follow people back or only follow those that you engage with.
One thing that came up today was that older brands struggle to find out what their true brand values actually are today. These were lost when the original founders left the company. They are also split and reduced as companies merge or are acquired. So then companies have to look deep within themselves to find their true brand values and show these through their brand and it's representations online. And for those companies where this is proving to be hard we are seeing individuals with personality within an organization being brought forward to represent the brand with their own personal flair.
What is the mission of the brand... Is it to make reading cool.... Or to provide healthy drinks to all! What is your mission and also what do you want to get out of your social media strategy!
There were a whole range of social media tools that were mentioned in the talks today, granted most were from just one talk but across the talks here's the tools that were recommended by the speakers at Media 140!
TweetMeme (analytics, custom channels, interesting content, retweet buttons & search)
TweetTabs (Multi tabbed real time search)