Why You Must Build your Brand Reputation Every Day on Social Media

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffett

 

Brand reputation is something we need to build, day in and day out. It can be easy to only conceive of brand reputation as something that we handle in the moment: things like crisis management, responding to issues, or stating our brand’s stance about current events. But I believe that brand reputation is an on-going concern—one we should be thinking about all of the time.

Social—its rapid rise and its ever-increasing dominance—is perhaps the biggest reason that a brand’s reputation must now be “always on.” If customers—and potential customers—can reach your brand at any time through social, it’s crucial that they are always interacting with the messaging you intend. I see three crucial building blocks of brand reputation: it should be always-on, it should be collaborative, and it has to be intentional. It’s also crucial that your brand reputation is data-informed.

Below, we’ll delve into each of these three building blocks of brand reputation and offer some examples of brands that are getting it right.

Brand Reputation Must be “Always On”

Brand reputation is a muscle that you must build—it’s something that you must always be working towards. At Spredfast, we set the intention that we’re going to grow and care for our brand reputation and we move that throughout our organization. It’s important that brand reputation is integrated across campaigns and across press releases. For those of us who have customer-facing team members, whether that’s in a retail environment, or a call center, how those team members interact with the customer is critical. We have to be thinking about reputation in every single piece of our business.

REI’s #OptOutside campaign is a stand-out example of a brand working inside of the reputation they’ve built for themselves. Instead of participating in Black Friday, REI instead closed every store the day after Thanksgiving and paid their 12,000+ employees to take the day off and spend time outside. With their hashtag campaign, they invited America to join them:

 

The campaign was wildly successful: REI reports that more than 1.4 million people and 170 organizations joined them and chose to opt outside. The biggest reason REI’s campaign worked is that it was in line with the brand reputation REI has been building for their entire history. In the wrong hands, a campaign like this could have felt trite, but when people saw the campaign from REI, they recognized it as a natural extension of the brand.

When you’re intentional about your brand’s reputation, you can create amazing campaigns that are a natural extension of that reputation.

When you’re intentional about your brand’s reputation, you can create amazing campaigns that are a natural extension of that reputation.

 

Brand Reputation Must be Collaborative

Brand reputation is not one team’s responsibility—it isn’t just the job of PR, or the social team—it’s everyone’s job, including everyone who interfaces with a customer. Each member of the organization needs to think about how they can have a “brand reputation” moment in everything that they do. For example, at Spredfast, when we’re building out a major campaign for the holidays and we’re looking at things like our Facebook spend, and the stories we’re telling, we’re always asking ourselves: “What is the through-line?”

Your brand’s partners are another crucial element in this collaboration. There’s a really great opportunity to invite our customers into the brand-reputation conversation and to have them be part of it. And in today’s world, our customers are telling us that kind of involvement is important to them. I would also challenge you to invite your detractors—when you’re not in crisis—to the table to have a conversation so that when there is an issue, they’re potentially better prepared to work with you.

One way to go about collaboration successfully is to contemplate brand reputation as something that a group of people does together. The Disney Moms Panel is a great example of expanding the concept of who helps with your brand reputation. If you’ve ever been to a Disney park or seen a Disney movie, you know that brand reputation is infused in every aspect of everything that Disney does. The Disney Moms Panel consists of “real moms and dads,” not Disney employees, who answer questions about Disney and interact with the public. Disney could have had employees handle these types of inquiries, but by bringing in the people who love them most and letting them be a part of the story, (and thereby releasing some control of their brand reputation), Disney’s reputation becomes stronger.

If you have people who are really passionate about your brand, bring them in as ambassadors to carry your brand’s reputation out into the world.

Ask passionate fans to carry your brand’s reputation out into the world as ambassadors.

 

Brand Reputation Must be Intentional

When you have hundreds of people (if not thousands or hundreds of thousands) within your company talking about your brand reputation, they’re all going to have a slightly different voice. They’re all going to have great intentions, we assume, but sometimes the outcome isn’t as wonderful as we would like it to be, so governance becomes important—making sure every employee is familiar with your brand’s messaging and values is key, as is training on how to carry that message to your audience.

When considering brand reputation, it’s common to think of crisis situations first, but we have an opportunity to think about the good stories. What are you hearing out there when you’re listening? What are the great things people are talking about? What’s the most valuable to people? Of course we’re listening for the things that can go wrong, but what if we listened for the things that go right—what an opportunity.

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A marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience in content, community, social media, and digital communications, Natanya and her team collaborate with global brands to support broad social strategies with enterprise software solutions to drive deep customer engagement and true ROI.