Is Your Brand and Rolodex Online?

Over a recent trip to Detroit, Michigan, I had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Monty, head of global social media at Ford Motor Company. It was Twitter that brought us together, but it was his candidness that made our meetup a meaningful and memorable one.

We discussed about companies, social media and branding. So in the next couple of weeks, I’m going to put up blog posts that cover these various topics and share with you insights from and analysis of each one of them.

Insight #1: Are your sales and marketing superstars on all major social media networks?

The idea of personal branding is centuries old, but the practice of it is evolving. “The long-term strategy is more than just a super Rolodex,” said Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company. “You need to establish a presence on all major social media channels.”

Traditional, old-school sales folks will tell you they can bring to your company a book of business, or a “super Rolodex” as Scott Monty put it, to help you win more business. If you hire someone in that vein of acumen, you could probably do yourself a favor by asking one more question: What’s your online presence like and how well is your brand established on all major social media channels?

If the person gives you a I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about look, then walk way. You’d do yourself another favor by saving 15 minutes explaining to him or her what social media is and why it is so important to have your personal brand presence online.

Think you’re being too tough to ask a 50-year-old sales rockstar this question? No, you’re not. Traditional sales and marketing concepts and experience are still relevant, but the practice of it has evolved online, and will continue to do so. If the person doesn’t have an online presence, where do you think your company will head to – stone age? You need someone who has the understanding, interest and conviction to take your business and brand online.

But before we dig deeper into business branding, let’s talk about the relationship between personal branding and business branding, which is so often misunderstood, but which holds the key to successfully separating yourself and your company brand from competition.

Scott’s personal brand was established before he joined Ford. (Check out @ScottMonty on Twitter and his blog on www.scottmonty.com) “There was a misconception about me that I utilized the Ford brand to establish my brand. But nothing is farther from the truth–I have my own personal network and online brand established long ago, and when I joined Ford, I took my personal network and connect my friends and peers with the Ford brand which they wouldn’t otherwise be associated with.”

A year after joining Ford, Scott not only continues to thrive in his personal brand, he has also taken the Ford brand to a different level—social media. Ford is now becoming a brand known to the younger consumers and have caught on the long-tail buzz as a reliable, trusted and quality brand.

Many business owners feel that if their sales and marketing superstars have their personal brands, then they must not be serving the purpose of the company. That’s ABSOLUTELY unfounded thinking. In fact, if they look closer at how branding, PR and marketing are done these days, a personal network of thousands can boost and drum up support and interest of tens of thousands on a geometrical scale, making whatever your campaign is much more successful than ever.

So let’s take a look here at the distinct features, upside and downside with regards to social media branding if you’re still wondering what they all mean:

Social Media Branding Distinct Features Upside Downside
LinkedIn A combination of traditional Rolodex and instant updates. Group discussion feeds are available at your desired frequency. Plenty of discussion groups to join. Receives real-time feeds of what your network of contacts are up to on the Home page. You can expand your network via tapping into your 2nd and 3rd degree contacts. Still not the most user-friendly interface. Group discussions yield limited participation. It’s difficult to look up event information and events you’ve RSVP’d once it’s done. People typically do not accept your invitation unless they’ve already made a connection with you prior.
Facebook Allows you to create personal network groups and make your posts viewable by those in your group only. You can join other people’s groups and receive real-time updates of their feeds and discussions. Everything is instant and done in real-time. Information is shared the second you post it online. You can tap into your group participants’ network as you try to expand your network of influence. Users seem to be more open to accepting new contact invites in this channel. Though easier to add contacts, the quality of contacts may not be consistent with that of your LinkedIn connections. Facebook interface and functionalities may require users to spend a bit more time to dig deep and interact. Only practice can make your art of Facebooking perfect.
Twitter Real-time information in 140 characters – short, fast and sweet. Great for building up a vast network quick and make real-time announcements. Single-layer platform doesn’t allow you to do much other than leveraging contacts’ updates to expand your knowledge and your circle as well as to work through contacts to see what opportunities they can bring you.
Blog In the true journalist style, a blog becomes your newspaper or magazine to voice your opinion and share content at your desire. Gives you a sticky presence online and perhaps the best form of personal branding to date. It’s essentially your own platform that gives you the flexibility to write, post and show what you want to share. High commitment tool that forces you to deliver high-quality content at all times.
YouTube Viral videos on steroid!! YouTube offers you a fast and furious way to get a reaction and prompts call-to-action for a campaign. YouTube links can be embedded cross-platform on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This is a great companion to your existing content and sharing opinions in real-time. Successful videos can get hundreds and thousands of views overnight and generate a ton of publicity. Video quality varies on YouTube. Viraling videos and coming up with ingenious content requires professional video skills, strategic thinking and strong commitment to execute. If done inappropriately, videos can cause backlash.
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