Competent Brand Management: Anticipate Problems
All too often, people assume that brand management in the 21st Century has everything to do with having a Facebook page and a Twitter account and hiring someone to manage them.
All too often, people assume that brand management in the 21st Century has everything to do with having a Facebook page and a Twitter account and hiring someone to manage them. Presence and activity – what else does a brand need to establish itself and defend itself against those who might compromise, hijack, or disparage it?
It takes a lot more. Simply having social media accounts that are robotically posted to doesn’t do much to build a following or an understanding of your brand, and in fact incompetent management of your social media can do more to damage that brand than anything else. When it comes to social media and your brand it’s not just about activity – it’s about anticipation.
Rhythm and Banks
Recently, we’ve seen two disastrous examples of poor brand management on Twitter which should be used as examples for years to come of how to damage a brand you’re supposed to be defending:
J.P. Morgan Chase. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank hasn’t had the best of years recently, suffering from record-setting fines, an embarrassing performance from its chairman in front of the U.S. Congress, and a general perception problem among the public. Someone thought that launching a Twitter campaign branded with the hashtag #AskJPM would be a great way to reach out to the public. Instead? They received a blizzard of even worse PR when all the questions tweeted at them concerned their fines, alleged illegal actions, and general perception as a modern corporate Robber Baron. The plug was pulled and not a single question was answered.
R. Kelly. The still-popular R&B singer was accused of an inappropriate relationship with under aged girls some time back, and for some reason someone on his social media team thought a similar stunt would be a great idea. They set up a special Twitter account and urged fans to ask any questions they wanted. The results were predictable: A storm of humorous, outraged, and even angry tweets concerning the old allegations. All the stunt managed to do was remind people who may have forgotten about the scandal.
Part of the role of a brand manager is to anticipate things like this. We’d all love to think we’re a brand that requires no such worries – whether we’re working in translation or any other field, but almost every brand has some bad press in its past. Defending a brand isn’t just about squashing baseless rumours or lawsuits and promoting the image you wish to see – it’s also about predicting where problems can arise, and steering around them. In the two instances above, the brand managers should have realised that on the Internet the opportunity to tweak two powerful and successful entities would be too good for most people to pass up.
How could they have handled the event better? For one, they could have more tightly controlled the process by narrowing the focus from ‘ask anything’ to a certain list of subjects. Two, they could have invited questions from a more restricted source – shareholders or prominent bloggers or members of a fan club. When it comes to defending a brand, half the battle is controlling the conversation.