Who Is Speaking For Your Brand?

You can’t scroll through your Google Reader these days without seeing a story of someone getting fired for something they tweeted or wrote on a blog. One of the most high profile cases out there involves Chrysler firing their social media agency after a staffer tweeted “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive.” from the Chrysler account.

And then of course there is the Gilbert Gottfried incident.

Now I get to demonstrate the “prime directive” of social media – you do NOT tweet about the hand that feeds you. And so I will NOT be talking about Gilbert Gottfried.

And as our friend in Detroit proved, this rule extends beyond just the brand you represent. It extends to their ecosystem. If you represent a Detroit automaker, especially one who is tying itself so closely to the rebirth of its home city, you cannot insult the people of that city.

You have to use restraint. Just as a doctor must avoid talking about patients in front of non-doctors, working for a brand requires a certain amount of discretion. Social media has often been likened to the public space. But it’s MUCH different. Unlike walking out your front door and yelling negative things about your brand/company, tweeting, blogging or otherwise publishing carries much more weight, for a variety of resources:

  1. It’s identifiable. Even if you are tweeting from your personal account, those messages can be tied back to your workplace.
  2. It’s permanent. Even though Chrysler deleted the offending tweet, dozens of their followers had already re-tweeted it. News agencies had taken screenshots.
  3. It’s loud. Even on the busiest street in Manhattan I could only reach a few dozen people, maybe 100 at most. On Twitter you can reach millions of people in an instant.

If you think your clients won’t find out because they don’t follow you, you are wrong. How well do you know your followers? You might not have your day-to-day clients following you, but that doesn’t mean that someone in their office, or their spouse isn’t.

When you work for a company, whether you are the client or the agency, you ARE the brand. Everything you say and do is a reflection on the brand. It’s the sacrifice you make when you cash that paycheck.  It’s frustrating at times. I can think of more than one time that I have wanted to comment on a commercial, or relay an experience I had with a brand, and had to bite my virtual tongue because my agency, or one of our partners, represents them. And it sucks. I want to be able to use social media just like all the non-agency people.

But as Jules says in Pulp Fiction “That shit ain’t the truth.”

And if these simple guidelines are too hard for you to follow, try these.

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About Ezra Englebardt
Account planner, digital nerd, marketing guru, tweeter, facebooker, occasional blogger, cyclist, snowboarder, mountain biker, social media junkie and avid reader. CU-Boulder and Boston College alum. Frequent guest speaker in Boston-area universities.

4 Responses to Who Is Speaking For Your Brand?

  1. Pingback: Marc Jacobs Proves My Point. « Hot Tub Crime Machine

  2. Pingback: Finding Your Brand Voice | Social Media Explorer

  3. Pingback: Finding Your Brand Voice » Marketing And Branding Portal

  4. Pingback: Establishing Your Social Media Brand Voice

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