Does social media beget brands?

January 18th, 2010 by Jon Clements

 

Postrank’s top blogs of 2009 has just placed PR Media Blog at number 15 among our peers, based on a level of engagement and influence.

Aside from creating regular content (our job), the engagement factor is down to you, the reader; so, we must thank you heartily for that.

To receive such an accolade makes one wonder whether we have, in a small way, created a brand of our own. If a brand is something that has built trust and influence among a group of people, then PR Media Blog might just be that. But if it possesses any semblance of brand values, these have not been created in isolation. Though we do the legwork in creating something for you to read, it has been the comments on posts, the feedback and retweets on Twitter and the trackbacks from other blogs that have helped us to refine and shape the blog. Equally, our guest bloggers are entitled to part-ownership of our micro-brand.

So, is our humble example emblematic of a shift in the evolution of a brand and who owns it?

Naomi Klein’s seminal book and examination of brand power, No Logo, is 10 years old and gets an update to be published later this month. The author’s latest article describes how, at the height of her fame, “megabrands and advertising agencies…wanted me to give them seminars on why they were so hated…a kind of anti-corporate dominatrix making overpaid executives feel good by telling them what bad, bad brands they were.”

To her credit, Klein never donned the metaphorical leather and whips. But, today, organisations don’t need to call upon Klein for such flagellation. Social media has amassed an army of brand critics only too happy to share their disappointment with the performance of companies. However, happy customers share their praise too.

In providing positive and negative sentiment online, they are giving organisations the opportunity to improve on their failings while interacting with a community of – well – fans. But to harness this wealth of management information, there has, first, to be a willingness to listen.

Listening to and acting on customer feedback is the essential precursor to worrying about brand. Klein illustrates this with the example of Price Floyd, erstwhile media relations direction at the US State Department. When, during the reviled Bush presidency, his colleagues urged more media activity and more messaging in an attempt to turn around “brand America”, Floyd nailed the problem: “It’s not the packaging, it’s the substance that’s giving us trouble”.

If organisations believe they can create a brand in isolation and simply tell the world what it stands for, they may be disappointed. As Tamsen McMahon says in a recent guest post on the Conversation Agent blog: “A brand is the collective impression people gain not only from you and your marketing efforts, but from all of their interactions with you-and the interactions others have as well (newly amplified through social media).”

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

3 Responses to “Does social media beget brands?”


  1. Katelyn Mashburn Says:

    Love the book “No Logo” and am excited for its new edition. I agree – it’s public relations duty to support companies that have good substance and a high ethical code. Without that, there’s not much to market.


  2. Jon Says:

    Hi Katelyn and thanks for your comment.
    I’m with you on that.
    Interestingly, Naomi Klein went on to question “Brand Obama” in her Guardian article, and – citing the skills of his most senior advisers – suggested that his victory could be seen a marketing triumph rather than the new departure in politics people may be expecting.


  3. social networking negative Says:

    social networking negative…

    Your topic THE SMALL BUSINESS BLOG” Blog Archive ” Australia/New Zealand … was interesting when I found it on Wednesday searching for social networking negative…

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