We all know companies that act like tyrants when it comes to their B2B brands on social media. They want to dictate every message, review every tweet, edit every Facebook post, run every video through legal. They (and their executives) want to be in control.
This approach comes from a place of fear. Fear of damage to the organization’s reputation, of PR fiascos, of potential legal repercussions. It’s true; those are all potential risks that come with being active on social media, but that does not mean that fear should control your interactions online.
In fact, letting go can be healthy and helpful to build your brand community and create stronger bonds with potential customers. Social audiences appreciate seeing the people behind the brand. They want to know that your company is made up of caring, human creatures and not just robotic software churning out bland messages.
What good is social media if you don’t step out and create some active discussion? A little discord or though provoking dialogue can generate interest and differentiate your brand in a way that is not possible when you never emerge from your comfort zone.
I’m not suggesting that those who post on behalf of B2B brands should be reckless or insensitive in their communications, just provocative. Are there issues in your industry that everyone thinks about, but no one has stepped up to address?
Why not take the lead?
When your brand creates a conversation around an important topic, you’re in a position to express your perspective and gather feedback quickly through social channels. This gives you the benefit of greater insight into your audience.
Facilitating a vibrant discussion is different from forcing your position. You’re not trying to get everyone to agree with you. You simply want them to engage. Speak up. Share their views.
B2B companies that are brand dictators try to control the opinions of others rather than persuading them. While this played in the past when companies had more control over their brands, the dynamics of social media and modern branding don’t support unilateral messages any more.
You don’t really own your brand
The game has changed and organizations don’t own their brands any more than a parent owns a child. Of course, your brand was conceived, nurtured and delivered by your company and I’m sure you’re quite proud of it. You should be. There’s a lot of hard work there.
Something interesting happened the day your brand baby was born. At the very moment it was launched, it ceased to be solely yours. It became subject to the perceptions and influences of the world at large.
Community voices are everywhere from employees at the water cooler to buyers at a conference and customers or competitors on social media. They all have something to say which reflects on your brand, shaping and changing perceptions from what you originally planned.
Even when we understand intuitively that customer interaction is an essential ingredient of a healthy brand, letting go can be difficult for brand parents. It’s hard to accept that people we don’t know have the power to influence our exquisitely crafted creation, potentially sending it down a path we never intended.
The fact that social media shifted the balance of power towards customers means that companies no longer have the privilege of dictating the terms of a brand relationship. That’s a really hard pill to swallow for brand dictators who prefer to be in control at all times.
Instead of focusing on the fear, think of liberating your brand as a chance to become part of a larger community. Open the door and suddenly a world of opportunity opens up, exposing fresh ideas and expanding the horizons of your business.
The only way to discover what’s out there is to take a deep breath and let your brand go. Liberate your brand and embrace the powerful forces that exist beyond your office walls. Welcome the fact that:
- Sometimes the best ideas come from outside the organization.
- Your most influential advocates may be people you don’t even know.
- Innovation can come from anyone, anywhere.
- Word of mouth is more compelling than paid promotion.
- Community engagement can lead to explosive growth.
There are many more benefits of allowing your brand to roam free in the world, but you can’t take full advantage of these opportunities without loosening the grip on your B2B brand just a bit.
It’s time to let it go.
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