Will the Social Networks Work with my Brand?

Listening to Radio 4 this morning there was a discussion about whether charities can reach people through blogging.

This seemed like rather a strange discussion to have in 2010, since blogs have been with us since the late 90s.  Blogger for Save the Children Eva Keogan and Louise Richards of the Institute of Fundraising talked about how this “new form of communication” was a great way of engaging people with a cause.  I appreciate that this may be a “new development” in communication for fundraising charities but it directly relates to a question I am often asked.  “Will the social networks work with my brand?”

The answer is two-fold, but simple nonetheless.

The first is that the social networks are about conversation.  The web promotes a read-write relationship.  After all, shouldn’t you be relating within relationships?  If you want to talk with people and have people talk about you then the social networks allows that to happen very effectively.  I would think that this covers most organisations.

The second has to do with the culture of your brand, which is also a relatively simple matter.  Can you handle people talking about you in good and bad?  Many organisations can’t cope with this idea and immediately shy away from relating with clients.  It needs to be on their terms and tightly controlled by them so that no negativity is ever communicated.  However, doesn’t that sound rather negative in itself?

Who do you respect more?  A company that admits they have made a mistake and is willing to put things right, and even goes that step further to engage with its clients and users and allow them to help it achieve this, or the company that pretends it is perfect?  How many perfect individuals or companies do you know?   Surely all we wish is that they try to be perfect.  It’s a fact that these conversations will happen on the social networks anyway.  If you screw up they will talk about you.  Isn’t it better to be involved in these conversations?  As I say, which do you respect more?  Which do you warm to more?


Youngest Child Syndrome

Originaly posted 18th May 2009

If you are anything like me, when you were a child you thought you were something special. In my case I think it had something to do with being the youngest of five children. I was spoiled and praised much too often. The evidence of the long term effects of ‘youngest child syndrome’ can be seen in the fact that I still believe I deserve to be spoiled and praised much too often. If I wasn’t so vain I’d be perfect!

My son Joseph seems to have been some kind of genetic accident, only taking his DNA profile from his dad. He is a chip off the old block, the spit from my mouth, my mini-me, my clone. My hope is that being the joint eldest (he is a twin) he will escape my syndrome and turn out to be more humble… an improved version… my 2.0. (then I will be perfect!) I remember thinking I was destined for great things. As a teenager especially I thought I had been put on this planet to be a great leader, a sage, an authority… a sex symbol. Then adulthood came and evidence began to gather that this wasn’t likely to happen and that “the chances” were weighed against me. Just one visit to London made me realise how many people are on this damn planet!

Since their birth I have always thought of Blogs as vain. I think they have youngest child syndrome too. People related to them think they’re cute and entertaining… and so are inevitably praised much too often. The rest of us think they’re vain little brats. I recently attended a digital conference in The Sage Newcastle, and listened to a talk given by a famous blogger. This guy had managed to successfully transfer his audience from his childhood livingroom to online. His talk was entertaining enough but I couldn’t help feeling blogs were created for this kind of guy. For our kind.