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Can Your Brand Be Too Honest?

Social media spirals us towards a plethora of updates and tweets ranging from hating certain brands to your daily hygiene

New Media on Ulitzer

Social media spirals us towards a plethora of updates and tweets ranging from hating certain brands to blow by blow accounts of your daily hygiene.  It really is TMI (too much information)!

At last week’s #brandchat, I posed the question – can your brand be too honest?

This hot topic brought about some great answers from the BRANDidos (term of endearment used for people who chat on #brandchat)

Sharing too much? Here are some of the insights:

  • DavidSandusky: Q1 Be you. Be relevant. What is private likely not relevant to share. #brandchat
  • CASUDI: A1: Honest as you want remembered forever by Google? Is that a valid criterion for brand transparency? #brandchat
  • karenswim: Re Q1: In our salacious tell all culture, transparency is sometimes misguided #brandchat
  • correlationist: #brandchat A1 - While transparency is key, being open with the wrong audience could be counter-productive. Know who u are talking to!
  • eamcc: #brandchat Q1 Integrity matters more than transparency. The first is responsive, the second reactive.
  • Kevin_PriceCom: If the unique aspect of you is supported by transparency then it is good. #brandchat
  • JillKoenig: @brandchat A 1 My belief is anything that is aligned w/your brand & adds value to your community is worth sharing

And, Craig Ritchie drove it home with a quote he shared from SXSWi (South by Southwest Interactive): Evan Williams, from his SXSWi keynote said - "A window is transparent but a door is open." You don't have to be a door.”

So, if you’re aligned with your brand, you can still be transparent yet you don’t have to be an open door - it’s all about balance.Balance

If your updates are all about business, people will find that dry, cold and, at times, too promotional.  And, that’s the wrong feel we want to exude, especially since, as Kent Dean, Director of Field Marketing for Rosa’s Café, states that social mediums deliver an opportunity for engagement.   That engagement needs to be nurtured not turned away.
In fact, Rosa’s story is pretty amazing because their fan page was truly started by a fan.  Much like Coca-Cola’s story that’s been so well circulated, Rosa’s also had a brand advocate, better yet a brand evangelist who already created an amazing fan base.  Instead of shunning that fan, they met with him, learned from him and garnered his partnership and association with their Facebook presence.

Smart move – take a brand evangelist and provide them the tools to be even better at advocating your brand.

Dean teaches members of the American Advertising Federation during luncheons and workshops, to solicit responses in their posts – be authentic and approachable.

Door and Window Further, he says:  Have a normal conversation with customers and ask questions; Respond to criticism publicly and be sincere; Don’t just talk about business; Promote fan journalism.
Perfect example from this past Friday - Rosa's Café posted: Weekend's here! If you're happy and you know it say 'MAGNIFICO!!!' Got plans?

What works for a company brand also works for your personal brand.  Here’s a quick 5-point checklist to see if you’re doing that.

1.  Can people comment on your blog?

It’s engaging when people can comment on your blog.  It does not mean that you are sharing too much.  In fact, it gives others permission to engage you.  Sometimes when you’re labeled as being “too open” in social networks, it can mean that you’re broadcasting messages instead of engaging in conversation.  Remember, after all, these networks are social networks.

2.  Do you have a Facebook Fan Page?

With Fan Pages, people can access your page without having to be members of Facebook (provided you keep your age settings on the default settings – changing those settings means that people will be forced to log-in so that Facebook can verify their age – this defeats the purpose of a public page), a huge plus for people who would like to get to know you without disclosing who they are right away.  They can also become a fan without you having to approve them.

3. Can they make comments on your Facebook Public Profile (fan page)?

Not Listening What so great about a fan page is it become a community for your brand advocates – if you let it be.  To do that, your settings for your page need to allow fans to “write on the wall” too. What if someone says something spammy or lewd?  Delete it.  If they complain, address it publicly- in general – and provide other options to communicate.  For example, take it to a private ‘in message’ for all the details and to have an in-depth discussion.
This does take a commitment of checking your fan page every single day.  You don’t want something left on the page that’s inappropriate for weeks and not addressed by you.

With all social networks, if you cannot invest the time to establish meaningful connections, then don’t participate in them. They can hurt your more than help if you publicly show you don’t value them.

4.  Do you respond on Twitter?

Again, social networks are social.  Engage and communicate – not just broadcast.  Help others, create lists, lead chats, provide insight, support and resources.

5.  Do you use in-message (Facebook Messages; LinkedIn Inbox, or Twitter DMs or direct email)?

Can they communicate with you privately or do you drive and answer only exchanges that are public?

You can be ‘on brand’ and still be socially adept. As one BRANDido shared, karimacatherine: Transparent doesn’t mean you can talk about everything, your life, your clients.

Cross-posted on TheBuzz101

More Stories By Maria Elena Duron

Maria Elena Duron is chief buzz officer, coach and speaker with buzz2bucks.com. Buzz2Bucks | a word of mouth firm serves as the community manager around your personal or business brand online and offline, and coaches community managers on how to be buzz-worthy. Buzz2Bucks is known for the talk that yields profits. She is author of the book "Mouth to Mouth Marketing" and the ebook "Social I.R.A." She's been quoted as a marketing and word of mouth expert by Entrepreneur Magazine and contributes to several publications and is the creator of #brandchat, a weekly twitter conversation about all aspects of branding. She broadcasts weekly as the business coach with CBS7. Duron will speak at the 2009 Massachusetts Conference for Women

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