Branding for the Social Web

@Sabrina | Social, Strategy

“A billion stories are told online across multiple social networks.” – Hajj Flemings.

Hajj Flemings, notable brand strategist and CEO/Co-founder of Gokit, opened up the 2011 Brand Camp: Personal Branding 2.0 Conference in Boston, October 4th with a clear message – “brands are stories and the people driving those brands must be passionate storytellers.”  This is great advice for today’s leading digital thinkers.

As we’ve discussed before it’s no longer about the ‘campaign.’ Rather, it’s about understanding the social influence of your own loyal consumers to broadcast creative ideas and concepts. Time and again at the event it came down to value, identity, and transparency. It quickly became evident that multiple channels are driving social engagement and as we move forward trying to generate that perfect balance between where brands live and how consumers interact, the types of actions we take will be imperative.  We have to find a way, as Flemings puts it so eloquently, to turn “Perception” into “Reality.”

Today’s leading brands, whether B2B or B2C have to resort back to, who are we and why are we relevant? Although presenting your organization as a ‘Jack of all trades’ seems enticing, without a clear content strategy, curating an audience to interact with branded content seems like an ongoing challenge.  Using social channels to broadcast other people’s content can create momentum, however, it will not create added links back to a brands web presence.

So what should our brand identity represent if we want to be embedded in the fabric of the digital consumer’s life, whose fingertips are only one ‘share’ button away?


Syndicating great feature rich content through a blog, without simply selling your brand, drives users into the conversation funnel. Peter Shankman (founder of H.A.R.O) made a great point by noting: “having an audience is a privilege – NOT a right.” People everyday want to find new and exciting ways to explore brands products and services.  If brands become a trusted advisor and embedded in the ongoing digital discourse, consumers will share their offerings as recommendations to the community.

Concerns with the number of ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ to build true value are quite common and unfortunately part of a tough game that can easily turn into a never-ending battle. Shankamn’s solution: focus on the fans/followers you have, give them a reason to show off your brand as they engage within social channels, and you’ll  be a new source to amplify your message.

Jessica Gioglio’s demonstration of the Dunkin’ Donuts brands proved an excellent example of how to really nurture your current followers. Dunkin’ fans are rewarded and recognized for their support, and are often found sharing their love for the brand without incentives. Why? Fans love Dunkin’ and Dunkin’ loves its fans – giving them recognition on their social media platforms for their photos, videos, and kind status updates is not just a ‘thank you,’ it’s a warm embrace.  That is why content builds not only from what their brand delivers, but from the fans themselves who take that impeccable photo with their favorite Dunkin’ beverage.

Brand Camp University’s collection of speakers combined their expertise to share what it means to be part of the social sphere as we leap forward to tell our unique stories. As Flemings puts it, “disrupting just to disrupt is not enough.”  Consumers have gravitated to social media for this reason, it gives them a channel into big brands…and the ones that listen and learn how to monetize their audience will win big in this next wave of online relationship building.

Living within our new social tools, applications, and devices means communicating about who we are, what brands we like, and what both parties mutually value. Most brands know their way around social media sites, but they need to learn how to measure their effectiveness as it relates to their target audience.