Over the past several days I’ve been having conversations with my fellow Twitter-ers about the aspect of Corporate Social Media and its role in this new world of communications and brand extension. Many of them, as I, agree that the ease and accessibility of social media tools are making the conversations quicker, more direct and rewarding. But as soon as I started asking about corporate branding in social media, the conversations turned quite serious.

I asked a simple question to a select few that I thought would have the position and backgrounds to give honest, insightful answers.

“So, What’s your “position” on 3rd party twitterers? (i.e.- hiring someone to tweet & track on behalf of your company?) Ethical? No?

The responses (35 in all) received from that question were pretty clear. In no uncertain terms would “posing” or “positioning” in social media be accepted. Transparency is key.

Microblogging professional, Mike Templeton‘s (on Twitter as @miketempleton & @microblink) answer was indicative of the overall tone of the mini-survey.

“…people like to know who it is. If you say you work for them (liaison), that’s ok”

And another social media stud, Andy Brudtkuhl, (on Twitter as @abrudtkuhl & @48web) says that …as long as they maintain a consistent message… the ethics question should be a mute point.

So, with that, I want YOU to sound off. When you’re on FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter or any number of social media venues, do you expect real corporate/brand connections (i.e. – @Starbucks, or @TheHomeDepot) Are those actually Starbucks / Home Depot employees? Are they a marketing firm hired to “Brand” those companies into the social media stream? Heck, check out @DisneyWorld, @DisneyLand, and @Mickey_Mouse — I bet Walt and Mickey are curious about that, hum?

What is your position on Corporate Social Media? Are there issues that concern you about integrating brand (further) into our online conversations? How about ethics and transparency? Do companies have a greater responsibility for truth when utilizing these tools? More than Joe-surfer?

AND NOW, THE POLL RESULTS (poll ended 11/26/08):

Thank you all for taking part in the poll. Please check back for more!

Until next time…

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

  1. I made the initial vote, because I believe that Corporate Social Media IS a GREAT extension tool for enhancing brand equity… when done prudently, within the guise of TRUE Branding…

    What do YOU think?BR/Andrew

  2. As you posted above, I’m all for corporations and businesses joining the social media fray, as long as they are open and transparent about their efforts. I want to connect with that brand and avoid any sort of tomfoolery.

    If they want to hire someone to work on their behalf, that’s fine, as long as they don’t pretend to be something they are not.

    The real value that comes from businesses being involved is that they are able to expand their brand into new realms and form deeper connections and relationships with their customers, leading to stronger customer loyalty and eventual increases in sales.

  3. Easily the most powerful and cost-effective way to extend your brand. It’s tough to measure the ROI but it’s there… Even if you just start by listening you find HUGE value.

  4. I don’t think it is that a company HAS to be more open and transparent but I think it is becoming clear that companies who do follow that approach are having a lot more success in this exciting space.

    Customers can get sales speak anywhere…when a company that is quite large can connect with you on a personal level in a genuine manner people appreciate that.

    One of the big things we try to remind people at I+A is that good customer service situations you create in social media can be seen by everyone. Whereas in a brick and mortar establishment it is seen by the customer only, and you hope they tell others.

  5. I think these comments are all very valid. One important thing to keep in mind is an orgnazation’s desire (right or wrong) to control the message. Even with an optimal brand comms architecture, in a dialogue, certain mediums make more sense than others. Blogs represent an excellent tool. Twitter, on the other hand, presents some interesting challenges to the brand manager. For me, co-creation has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool in advancing the elasticity of certain brands. However, great care should be taken in assessing the appropriate platform based on targets’ needs/desires.

  6. There are several ways for brands to engage the public via social media, and all can be pretty effective as long as transparency and good karma are maintained.

    1. The blogging CEO.
    2. The blogging executive.
    3. The blogger within (an employee who really loves talking about the company he works for).
    4. The community manager.
    5. The fans themselves.

    As soon as a company starts paying celebrity bloggers (I chuckle as I write this, but you know what I mean,) that’s when they start getting into trouble.BR/BR/As long as the 5 choices listed above are excited, passionate and honest, you’re 90% there.

  7. @MikeTempleton — Boy, I think you hit it right on the head…

    I”The real value that comes from businesses being involved is that they are able to expand their brand into new realms and form deeper connections and relationships with their customers, leading to stronger customer loyalty and eventual increases in sales.”

    What else can I say?

    Thanks so much for contributing and furthering my Social Media education!

    Keep Cooking!

  8. @Andy Brudtkuhl — ah, but as we discussed at AAF this afternoon, tracking and measurement is available if you’re looking in the right places…

    Measurable ROI will be the lynch pin of selling SM to corporate clients – both from a B2C and B2B standpoint… That’s why we need people like you!

    Thanks for joining the conversation. I look forward to hearing more of you in the mix…


  9. @Zach — great point. On Twitter, FaceBook, et al… the conversation is being broadcast – loud and clear(most of the time). Transparency is imperative and will be expected. If the conversation builds community around a brand, then great. But if the efforts just create more noise, the channel will be ignored…

    Thanks for the input. Hope to see you ’round the table for more conversations!

  10. @Brian — control…hmmm. Hard to maintain without that pesky tracking Andy eluded to earlier. In your own blog control is easier, but with Twitter (and others), it takes a little more finesse to make sure your brand is being represented Truthfully. Corporate Social Media can be hugely successful, but campaigns still need to match the target market. And advanced tracking needs to happen to assure messages stay on point and clear to the consumers…

    Thanks so much for stopping by the kitchen! Talk to you again soon.

  11. @thebrandbuilder — succinct and superbly stated, friend!BR/BR/It is sometimes laughable, but some cases are showing some pretty “heavy handed” attempts at cutting corners or simply not having the passion and honesty you described…BR/BR/It’s an interesting horizon… I’m glad we’re all here to watch and appreciate.BR/BR/Thanks for your input! I look forward to having you spice things up…BR/BR/Andrew

  12. I know I’m late to this post but I wanted to let you know that for the record, the people who monitor/post Twitter on the @TheHomeDepot profile are actual employees. Most of the tweets come from Sarah M who works in corporate communications, and I cover the account from time to time as well (I work for homedepot.com.) I can’t speak for all brands by any stretch, but that’s how it works at The Home Depot.BR/BR/Just thought you might like to know…BR/BR/All the best,BR/BR/NickBR/BR/PS. I’m on Twitter @nickjayres

  13. @nickjayres — it’s never too late, and Bwelcome to the kitchen!/B BR/BR/I appreciate the input from a corporate point of view. @homedepot has a great Twitter following and to know that “the company” has people on staff that are taking part in the conversation gives me I(an even)/I better feeling toward Home Depot. I’ve heard stories of companies chastizing employees for engaging with customers through SM, and it really makes one wonder IB”what is there to hide”/B/I even if there isn’t anything…BR/BR/Thanks again for the input. Hope to see you ’round the table more often!BR/BR/Keep Cooking — Great engagement!BR/Andrew B. ClarkBR/The Brand Chef

  14. So, tell me, @nickjayres, why doesn’t the @homedeopt account on Twitter have any updates?BR/BR/I haven’t looked, but does Home Depot have a Facebook or any other SM accounts?BR/BR/Just curious… BR/BR/Keep Cooking!BR/Andrew B. ClarkBR/The Brand Chef

  15. Hi Andrew – I’m over at @thehomedepot. Someone is sitting on the other user name.BR/BR/SarahBR/http://twitter.com/thehomedepot

  16. Hi Sarah! Thanks for the clarification… Obviously The Brand Chef needs to read a little better…BR/BR/It Iis/I BTHE/B Home Depot…BR/BR/Anyway — GREAT response and use of SM. As you can see from the above survey, the general consensus is that SM is a Great extension of the brand — and you just proved it. BR/BR/Thanks for stopping by the kitchen. Hope to see you in the mix I(and thanks for the great deal on my garage door opener… a bear to install, but smooth as butter!)/IBR/BR/Keep Cooking — the great conversations!BR/Andrew B. ClarkBR/The Brand Chef