You can’t buy ‘Like’ but you can build it. And they will come.

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I recently read Can’t Buy Me Like: How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results by Bob Garfield and Doug Levy. If you want a better understanding of how social can enhance your organizational brand, it’s a must-read. Below are my top three takeaways:

#1: “We don’t own the brand. The people who use our product own the brand. Let them talk about the brand for us.”

(Sidebar: This nugget of knowledge can be found on page 112. It’s my favorite and why it’s #1).

Simple brilliance. If more marketers and branders realized this, the industry would be changed and social media would be the key leveraging tool.

As communication professionals, we can conduct all of the advertising we want. In the end, it’s about the user experience.

If they are out-of-sync, you  have the opportunity to dialogue with your social community and get them aligned.

Case in point: In the book, Joe Tripodi, the CMO for Coca-Cola, had an a-ha moment following the Mentos and Diet Coke “experiment” that went viral on YouTube:  “I used to think that loyalty was the top of the pyramid:  awareness, consideration, preference, loyalty. Then I said, ‘Oh my God, advocacy is the bigger thing.’ If you can get people to be active advocates as opposed to passive loyalists, I think [that] is so much a part of our future.”

Yep, more simple brilliance and spot on. Thanks Joe, for the beautiful lead-in for takeaway two.

#2: “An ad is someone passing you on the street, someone you may or may not even notice. A Like is an encounter. Maybe it’s a kiss and a hug and a catch-up, or maybe it’s just a mutual smile in passing, but it is an actual engagement involving at least a modicum of attention and emotion and presumption of ongoingness.”

(Sidebar: This bit of social awesomeness can be found on page 123).

This is a sentiment from Garfield and Levy after they shared a case study about Oreo. I love this and here’s why:

It clearly articulates the value of social media in direct comparison to traditional media.

Traditional can (largely) be defined as passive. It’s serving an impression; it’s sharing a thought or a picture yet it does not offer an opportunity for engagement. Think outdoor billboards, magazine ads or radio spots.

On the other hand, having a social media presence (and in this case, Facebook specifically) invites engagement.

[Tweet “If your brand and social are in-sync, you’ll have self-ascribed and resolute ambassadors. “]

#3: “A purpose is not a commodity, and you cannot outsource soul searching…..a purpose statement must be derived, not contrived.”

(Sidebar: Are you building your brand? Don’t miss page 128).

These little nuggets o’ wisdom also come from the authors and reflect how organizations should uncover their brand personality and carve a space and place within their competitive field. I love these nuggets because of the experience we went through at UNCG as we completed our own Integrated Marketing & Strategic Communication (IMSC) effort.

We referenced Simon Sinek’s thoughts on cultivating a “Why-How-What” communication strategy to differentiate ourselves. It’s how we defined our own, authentic communication strategy and shared value of Do something bigger altogether.

As we continue to roll out IMSC across our campus, we continually say it was built from the ground up. It was not conceived by the marketing folks, but rather, discovered and uncovered during our own research. A revelation of sorts.

So go on. Revel, reveal and get social.


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Kevin · at

I love lesson one, about the people owning the brand. That flips the pyramid upside down, and helps me see that no matter how hard I work, without the people engaging through likes, comments, shared, retweets, reposts, etc., my brand slowly begins to sink. Thanks for sharing this enlightening post.

    Cool Deb · at

    isn’t it great? Such a different, yet sort of ‘duh’ way of thinking. I am constantly reminding myself now advocacy vs loyalty. They are two different things when it comes to engagement. Miss you at the G. Hope all is stellar in the new endeavor.

Patrick O'Neil · at

Great post Deb. We talked alot about point 1 at Northwestern ‘s IMC program (who owns the brand?). It’s hard to come to terms with that fact because the first reaction is one of helplessness or futility. The truth is that it makes the brand experience more relevant and forces marketers to get closer to their customers to understand what authentic really means in their context…

On point 3, soul searching…yes, there is always soul searching and it is hard work. oy…

Keep up the good work…P

    Cool Deb · at

    I couldn’t have said it better. You know, you have always been someone I respect and think of as a mentor : ) Thanks for the insight. Hope all is well in your own marketing and branding world.

Kathleen Donohue · at

Interesting incites; I look forward to checking out the book you referenced. Working in technology an industry; believe it or not, that is not very forward thinking when it comes to social. I am constantly trying to engage the current customers to speak about their experience with our product and services. Unsolicited testimonials about what our company did to help them solve a problem is key.

Keeping engaging cool deb!

    Cool Deb · at

    If I could offer the book, I would. My boss is sharing with some of us in the department. I do think tech has it own bag of tricks because while we are alike (i.e. marketing), we are also quite different. I applaud your efforts to engage and solicit field testimonials. Great way to go!

    Thanks for the post!

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