Archive for the 'Social Networks' Category

Brand advocates are more important than ever.

Liquid Agency Brand Advocacy and Content SharingThe growth of the social web has meant one thing to a lot of people: information overload. So much so that folks are regularly sharing content without consuming it — we’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another. You get a headlined Tweet or Facebook post from a particular writer or brand X and you pass it along, never bothering to click through and actually read or view the content.

Veteran tech writer David Spark has written a great article about this phenomenon that appeared in Mashable this week: “Why Sharing Online Content Might Be Too Easy,” and we’ve written a complementary article that we’ve posted on the Liquid Brand Exchange “Sharing Branded Content: Can Advocates Make a Difference.”

Check them out and share your thoughts. There’s been a lot of buzz about these issues lately, as brands face the many challenges associated with the “new reality” of the social web, including the struggle of how to stand out in consumer’s minds when people are overwhelmed with information.

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Q&A with Myspace SVP of Communications Rosabel Tao

Q&A with Myspace SVP of Communications Rosabel Tao
An excerpt from our interview with Rosabel Tao of Myspace.. Ms. Tao led a discussion on brand relevancy at the Liquid Brand Summit 2011, which took place March 1 in Palo Alto. View photos of the Summit here.

Click here to learn more about the Summit and our other outstanding guest speakers and session leaders.

ABOUT ROSABEL
Rosabel Tao is an accomplished corporate communications strategist with two decades of experience creating integrated, multi–disciplinary communications programs and building communications organizations from the ground up. She’s worked with a broad portfolio of companies in a full range of growth stages — from global brands to start–ups, including of Bank of America, Microsoft, HP, Levi Strauss, Safeway and Spot Runner.

Q: As brands evolve, so do their audiences. What are some tactics companies use to ensure brands remain aligned with their core audiences or adapt to new audiences as market forces change?

A: First, brands need to be very clear about who their desired target audience is and focus on serving that audience. This is more difficult than it sounds — I’ve seen many companies try to be all things to all people for fear of not capturing everyone who could possibly want their product/service. Oftentimes, this results in an offering that is too broad to appeal deeply to any one audience and prevents the brand from truly taking root. It’s best to build a core, loyal audience first and expand from there.

Disneyland, for example, has historically catered to families with children. Over time, the theme park has added new rides and shows and expanded some of its marketing to appeal to a broader audience, but at the heart, it continues to remain true to its core demographic.

Starbucks is an example of a company that built a loyal core audience for its coffee drinks and the experience of its stores. There was period of time when it expanded very quickly and got into music, food, ice cream, merchandise and more — and it lost focus of its core customer and started losing marketshare to a wide array of competitors. Since then, it has recommitted itself to its heritage of coffee and the store experience.

FOR THE REST OF ROSABEL’S INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE.

WATCH FOR MORE FROM THE LIQUID BRAND SUMMIT 2011
We’ll soon be publishing more content from the Liquid Brand Summit, including additional video interviews with our expert session leaders, as well as key findings from the Summit’s 10 sessions.

Also, check out this year’s top tech brands, as named by the the Liquid Brand Impact Report 2011.

For more on brand transformation, visit Liquid Agency.

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Q&A with method Soap Master Eric Ryan

Eric Ryan of method

An exclusive interview with method Co-Founder Eric Ryan. Mr. Ryan will lead a discussion on turning customers into brand advocates at the upcoming Liquid Brand Summit, held March 1 in Palo Alto.

Click here to learn more about the Summit and our other outstanding guest speakers and session leaders.

ABOUT ERIC:
Eric Ryan is one-half of the “proud brain parents” of method, the leading innovator in eco-friendly household and personal care products. He started method in 2001 with his high school buddy Adam Lowry and has since built the company into a $150 million retail brand that was ranked the 7th fastest growing company in America by Inc magazine. He’s been named an eco-leader by Vanity Fair, a Food & Wine Tastemaker, an eco-revolutionary by Time Magazine, and PETA’s Person of the Year.

With method, Eric has successfully grown one of the world’s most loyal brand communities, the core of which is rooted in the company’s distinct values and brand culture.

THE INTERVIEW:
Q: What were some of the initial challenges you faced in building a community of brand advocates for method? Can you describe the one or two things that were most successful in growing that community?

A: One of the biggest challenges for creating advocacy within method is the fact that we compete in very low-interest categories. While there are self proclaimed “clean freaks” in the world (think the character Monica in the TV show “Friends”), it is difficult to build a community around the act of cleaning, which most people consider a chore to be avoided at all cost.

We took the approach of building advocacy around a diverse set of shared values which includes the emotional connection to our homes, caring for loved ones in our homes (i.e. pets and children) and the environment our homes sit on. The end result is that our advocates share our passion for design, sustainability and eliminating toxins from the home - and it’s these shared values that allow us to create advocacy in a low-interest category.

The core of growing this community starts with our culture. The team at method is truly passionate about our values and this comes through in everything we do as an authentic brand. We purposely blur the lines between who we are and who we serve under the belief that we are all “People Against Dirty.” This allows us to build the brand from the inside-out with a high level of transparency providing a lot of ways to connect with our advocates.

Q: How has your brand advocacy program grown over the years?

A: The way we see it, brand advocacy is just a nice side benefit of creating remarkable product experiences and building a brand with shared values that people want to be part of. Our job is to do things that actually get people to love our brand and want to become an advocate so we try not to obsess too much on building a specific number of advocates. It’s really about quality not quantity.

With the explosion of social media tools, there are so many ways for advocates to share their love of a brand, so building a database is less of a priority versus creating stuff worth talking about. Over the years, we have shifted towards launching marketing flares that fuel advocacy by ensuring all of our marketing invites participation. Examples include: our Detox Pop Shops, where advocates could trade in toxic cleaning products for non-toxic method products, our Shiny Suds Viral video to build support for Al Franken’s Household Label Act that would bring ingredient transparency to the industry, and our Laundry Smarts Campaign that asked people to ditch the laundry jug to end detergent over-dosing.

Q: Can you give examples of how your investment in brand advocates has paid off? How do you track and measure the success of your program?

A: This is a tough question for us to answer because advocacy is embedded in our DNA, so we don’t stop to measure it or separate from other marketing programs. As a mission-driven brand, advocacy is part of everything we do from product development to PR. Our company is founded on seven competitive advantages, and for us obsession #1 is “inspiring advocates.” As People Against Dirty, it’s what we do!

Q: Who is typically responsible for the brand advocacy program, and where is it housed?

A: First and foremost, everyone in the company is responsible for creating advocacy for our brand. We start each Monday with an all-company huddle, which opens by reading an advocate letter to remind ourselves of who we all work for . . . our advocates.

Everyone at method is encouraged to do everything they can to build advocacy from openly using social media tools to hugging strangers on the bus. However, at a practical level, it is led within the Brand Experience department and run by the fabulous Anna who ensures we are spreading the advocate love both internally and externally. Thanks to Anna, everything we do from the Friday beer cart to the latest product launch finds its way to our advocates while leveraging insights from this community to make our brand and products stronger.

ASK ERIC:
Want to here more from Eric? Send us your questions and thoughts. We’ll include them in discussions at the Liquid Brand Summit. We look forward to hearing from you.

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The Brand Summit was a hit!

I am happy to report that the Liquid Brand Summit was a very well attended and very well received event. It was a pleasure spending the day at tackling issues about brands and branding with so many smart and interesting people. We’re now compiling all of the Best Practices that were uncovered during the day, and will share them shortly. I helped manage the session about Brands, Blogs and Social Media: Strategies for Entering the Global Conversation, which was led by Derek Gordon from Technorati.

We discussed the many ways that brands can leverage social media, blogs, vlogs, etc. Our key conclusion was that brands need to develop community through highly visible and easily accessible points of entry which invite and host other voices, as well as contributing their own. The four key steps to building community include: 1.Set objectives, 2.Curate, 3.Moderate, 4.Communicate. It was a lot of work…but also really fun! More details will follow!!!

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Brand Session Leader from Current TV is now at Yahoo!

We’re pleased to announce that Colin Decker is now at Yahoo!
When he signed up to lead a session at the Brand Summit he was working at Current TV, where he had the title of Creative Director, Brand Engagement. Now he’s at Yahoo! and his new title is Director of Strategy Yahoo! Video. In his new job he will be “providing product strategy and leadership to Video at Yahoo!”. CONGRATULATIONS, COLIN!!!! We’re excited for him..and especially excited that he will still be managing his Session at the Brand Summit, which is titled: Consumer Generated Content: Can Brands Let Go of Control?

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Brand Session Leader Changes Jobs

The only constant is change. This is especially true in Silicon Valley. So, it should not be a surprise that one of our Session Leaders has made a career change, moving from a company that is redefining the landscape of new media and customer engagement to a larger, well known Silicon Valley company - where their valuable expertise about video content, social networks and ways to involve the public could make a big difference. The good news is that they’re still participating in the Brand Summit (which is a great relief to us), and they will still be facilitating their session topic….and they will be representing a venerable technology brand. If you can guess who this is, please let me know…otherwise, check in tomorrow, when I should be able to give you an update!