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In Social Media: Will people stay ‘on brand’

September 12, 2008

Lets say a retail company comes up with a tag line for their marketing that goes something like this: “We smile all the time”. They run ads on TV and online showing shiny happy people working in their place, smiling all the time.

But in the real world, the people are minimum wagers who hate their job, and the smiles aren’t free. This is an exaggerated example of the a company not living the brand. In this over-the-top example, there’s a good chance that fingers would be pointed, the brief would be blamed, and the client might consider a new agency. Or someone would yell at the Jr. AE.

Paying people to hold signs is one of the olde...Image via Wikipedia

I say all this because I wonder about brands using social media. I wonder if a brand might hire someone to be their voice in social media, and have that person, on the day where they are hungover, angry, sad, mad, having a bad day, speak not like the brand, but like someone having a bad day.

Take, for example, a Twitter feed. If the brand doesn’t copy the model of having a person do the feed, and hires people to speak for the brand, this could happen.

A company might spend millions on advertising to position the brand and the voice of the brand in a certain way. And, while I’m not saying that it’s guaranteed that someone representing a brand will embarrass the brand, I am saying that the potential exists. As the list of brands that Twitter grows, so does the chance that something goes wrong.

Some might say that any kind of conversation will be right, even it appears wrong. But I’ll disagree and throw on my copywriter hat. Some brands have taken years to get to where they are. And it wouldn’t take long to dismantle all the work with a wayward social media conversation to the wrong person (say, a social media influencer).

Is the answer to be a person, and not a brand on social media? Perhaps. That would limit the exposure. But another way to limit the exposure would be for the agency that is the “brand steward” to take on being the social media brand steward as well.

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