Collaborative Brand Building through Social Media

I read an insightful blog post a couple of weeks ago about collaborative brands on the modern web. The whole point of the story was that corporations no longer own brands, the people using them do. Corporations who want to have any say about their own brand should be able to work in collaboration with the users of the brand. The big question is whether or not corporations dare to let their brands go.

In this post I aim to apply the thoughts about collaborative brand building so that some of you get a bit of a better picture of what this really means. This post will not give you the insightful/philosophical view. If you want that, read the other post. This will take a practical approach. As usual.

(I am therefore sorry if this post do not do it’s original ANY justice whatsoever…)

How to build a Collaborative Brand through Social Media
Well it is easy. You know your brand today consists of several components. There is the logo, the slogan, the communication (pressreleases, tv-interviews, commercials etc.), the values and principles, policies etc. All make up the public image of your brand. From now on, let’s call these components “raw materials” as Tribaling does on his blog.

Now –> Make these raw materials public, define them and share them with your users. Ie. you have to make these components available for your online crowd to alter and make their own.

Some kind of flow chart on how this works

The Brand Toolbox
So you should create a toolbox of “raw materials” for people to use when they are creating your brand. This toolbox can be presented in a social media newsroom which becomes the total resource centre for all your raw materials. It could be a video posted on YouTube, it could be a Wiki-article where you post your CSR policy for people to alter the way they want and make it their dream policy. Put all your presentations on slideshare.

Basically, you should make available loads and loads of information on your website, and also on other social media websites. Now to clarify the above model.

Dialogue to understand
Putting the tools out there is not enough however to make people want to talk about you. However, it has given your users better options when talking about you. Instead of using crappy material they copy/pasted from some crappy mobile camera, they can now use your press images when writing about you.

Anyhow, back to the dialogue.

What you should do now is to look and listen to who is talking about you and how they are talking about you. Talk to them and ask them why they interpreted your brand in the one or the other way. See if there are differences or similarities in how people portray themselves through your brand on the web. Learn, and ask what you should do in order to help the users utilize your brand so that it gives them the most value to talk about it.

Adapt your Toolbox
Once you find your ambassadors –> ie. the people that are talking about you the way that you really want people to talk about you. See how you can bribe them the best way possible. (I can’t believe that came out loud..)

No, seriously.

They are your promoters, they are the ones you should focus on. What raw materials are they using from your toolbox, what else do they need in order to continue building your brand on the web. How can you help their stories become contageous enough for their story to spread through the viral word of mouth?

Start adapting, altering and changing the tools in your toolbox so that more people will be able to embrace the full potential of themselves through your brand. Help them become the heroes of gardening, the brainiacs of modern furniture, the monsters of albatross bird watching. Basically, help them become the shiait within their sphere of interest.

As they gain followers (not to confuse with twitter followers, more like jesus followers) then so will your brand.

Path #1
Let’s say you have an image logo and you want people to relate to it. Why not create a little quiz on Facebook where people can use your logo to put on their profile. Why would anyone do this you might ask? If I say Apple or The Red Cross, you might think “well DUH” –> those are huge brands with devoted supporters. “Well”, I say. Think about it. They are brands that say something about the person using them. If you let your users use your brand, then one day you might also be iPod with the rest of the world. (Seriously jumping way ahead of myself… however… think about it). Now, back to the example.

As I was typing this I went onto Facebook to get an example of what I mean and poff. There was my friend who had just done the test “What type of IKEA furniture are you?”. “What kind of rediculous question is that?”, you might think. Well, this is exactly what I mean. They put two raw materials out there and the next time my friend visits IKEA or thinks about buying a sofa –> tada!! I AM THAT SOFA!! (Again getting out of line…)

Path #2
Well… here I will just show a couple of examples from YouTube where this has been done. No more talking Jesper.
This is a good one –> However, Starbucks might not like it..

Maybe I shouldn’t show you this one at all…

Maybe not this one either….

But actually I should as these companies don’t publish any raw materials… And look what happens 🙂

Path #3
This happens daily between bloggers. So I don’t really have to write anythin else than that this does not mean that you should spam important bloggers with e-mail pressreleases. They will kill you for doing that. If you are hiring a PR-firm that sends out press releases to bloggers. FIRE THEM. They are not doing their job. They are not building relations, they are, at best, building some negative publicity.

The whole thing here is making you press releases into segments and pieces, easily editable and copy/paste friendly. Break every piece of news into fragments. Help people link to you by asking them to blog about the news you’ve just published etc. etc.

Finally
I have been holding this post in for so long and I feel like I have to post it. It is not what I wanted it to be. But it is good enough to get some comments and molding. I will give you more and better examples as I find them.

//Jesper

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