making sense of social

Are we choosing wisely when we pick our brand guardians?

A brand is a company’s most valuable asset. It is what sets them apart from competitors. It defines who they are, what they value and how they act. And in a world where people can quickly and easily connect with brands online companies should be incredibly careful how they manage their brand online. And yet countless brand profiles across social media are being managed by people who are wholly unqualified to do so.

Print adverts have to follow visual guidelines; TV and radio adverts have to conform to tone voice; websites are carefully designed to represent the brand digitally. All communications should be entrenched in brand guidelines. After all, it’s the brand that is talking, and a brand should have a clear personality, a set of values, and a way of speaking.

So then, why do we think we can ignore this with social?

We let interns speak for us. We hand over profiles to junior account execs, with no training, experience or qualifications. Few if any are given direction, let alone clear guidelines on how to represent the brand online.

Countless brands give away control of their online voice to their agencies, entrusting them to stand for the brand, its values, its way of thinking, under the at times misguided belief that they are best qualified. Very rarely are the agencies given brand training by the brand.

We wouldn’t let these people craft copy for adverts, or developing messaging for a television campaign, and yet these people are trusted to engage with consumers on a daily basis, acting as the official voice for the brand.

As social media matures, and companies are seeing its full potential they have to also recognize the huge dangers the face by trusting the wrong people to be their voice in social spaces. Companies need to carefully pick their brand guardians, lest their brand suffer the consequences.


About the author

This post was written by Mike Phillips

Plannery type person with silly side projects. Not to be trusted.

Follow them on twitter: @imjustmike

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  1. Claire |

    I’ve no idea of the quote, but in the middle of the most recent Nesquick debacle the brand’s Facebook administrator wrote a message so poorly aware of who they were posting to [both fans and the furious] that it was frankly shocking. (Something along the lines of ‘chill out, it’s just the environment guys’) Their grasp of PR seemed nonexistent. I would be really curious as to who was allowed to log in to update that.

    I don’t think that it’s the position of the person updating that’s at fault so much (you might argue this is my history of working on brands’ social pages whilst interning popping its head up), but a focus on a lack of supervision, training and most crucially, a total lack of understanding at whatever level (not all, but some). If you get this with traditional (or you should) I wonder why not for online. Too easy to delete things and blame it on the kids perhaps.

    Sort that basic one out and then move onto fixing “Very rarely are the agencies given brand training by the brand,” which would be another fantastic thing to address.

    In short, yes. Agree. More training, more understanding. But noting that both the appearance and lack of these comes at all levels. More love for online plz.

  2. Tracy |

    I agree that companies need to be more aware of who they are entrusting their brand with, but I also think that young interns, junior account execs, etc. need guidance and the opportunity to learn effective branding. There needs to be a collaborative effort, strategic planning, and continuous dialogue. Someone has to carry the torch so best to educate. As someone who is still learning I appreciate the opportunity to get my feet wet and learn.


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