In the past, political entities and businesses had a great deal of control over their brands.
They created and nurtured a specific identity, and behaved and communicated in ways that were consistent with that identity. They used advertising and public relations, carefully measuring the results. While organizations still use advertising and PR, in the online world they can no longer control everything that is being said or known about them. Both fans and detractors can publish what they choose and video and other content can easily go viral.
Not being able to exercise total control does not mean abdication. Many free tools, like Google alerts, enable organizations to understand what is being said online. Companies should monitor the Web and be prepared to correct false statements or communicate their own perspectives. Training employees and having them act as brand ambassadors is a strategy that has been successfully employed by many companies.
While social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs allow positioning with clients and prospects; we need to be aware that they are not the only aspect of digital identities. Marketers have been quick to understand the value of online and networking data. Targeting has become a very sophisticated science. It is no longer just what is being said online, it is also about behavior and networking connections. Marketers have data about what individuals or companies purchase, who they know and what they view. The openness of the digital world enables a great deal of information to be easily obtained.
Proactive Definition Needed
To be successful, business leaders must understand what is available to better understand their clients or prospects. The game has changed. Insights are necessary to level the playing field. Furthermore, leaders must be aware of how they and their businesses are viewed. Unfortunately, if we do not proactively define our digital identities others may step in and do it for us. And, this is never a desired state!
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Andrea Goldberg, PhD, is president and founder of Digital Culture Consulting, LLC and an expert in market intelligence, social media and change leadership. Reach Andrea at: [email protected]