The three of us were generally aligned on our thoughts, with varied executions using social media tools given the differences in our businesses. I’m a big fan of Magnation, but there was one area in which Sahil and I disagreed, and that was that he preferred to control the output of social media. His contention was that he wanted a single voice to represent the brand personality. On the surface this sounds reasonable, even rational, but even a week later I really think it goes against what it is all about and here’s why:
The voice of a brand is the collective actions of all of it’s representatives. Not the CEO, the marketing director or the advertising they put in the market. Just ask anyone about their opinion of banks in Australia. It has nothing to do with the voice banks project, and more to do with the customer interactions. The voice is what the people hear & experience on a personal level, not what the brand stewards say.
Social media can’t be controlled. So why try? There is nothing worse than limiting the voice of your people. They will talk anyway. They’ll share links, write about your brand and talk about it on line and off. They will have real interactions with customers, and if what the authorised voice says (Sahil in this case) doesn’t match the reality of the brand in action, then it all sounds contrived and is useless anyway. It’s more likely to have meaning and be authentic if its the word of the people, not the king. So let your people participate. Give them their own Magnation twitter account, a sub brand of sorts. Be a collective. Be real.
Create culture, don’t control output. It’s an errant assumption to believe you know better than your people do. It’s often not the case. What we need to do is educate our people on what we want to be as brand, the persona. Give them some guidance and let them represent us, make mistakes and be human. People love dealing with companies who have a human voice and mistakes are part of the human.
Trust creates value. I find it curious that companies trust their employees with the key’s to the building and the cash register and not their voices. It’s best to approach it like a parent does with a teenager. Give a bit, let them prove themselves and then loosen the lead a bit more. Trusted people usually over deliver to expectations. People who are shut out usually react in the opposite. In social media context we need to trust the average human outcome, rather than block all for fear of a single bad outcome.
The key point to me is, if you want a controlled voice, then social media isn’t the right vehicle for a brand. More traditional media would be more suitable. The word social is the giveaway here, because social implies conversation, not lecturing or monologue. All our people should be part of the conversation if we want to create real value.