While in New York last week, I had the opportunity to attend a round table discussion at AdAge, hosted by Jonah Bloom.

We had a wide ranging discussion covering the Power 150 through to the future of marketing and its intersection with social media. From the discussion, it was clear that marketers are now actively seeking to
understand the role that blogging or social media can play within their overall strategy — so much so that AdAge, today, is asking an intriguing question — “does your company need a chief blogger”.

Now, I am sure that there are as many opinions on this topic as there are bloggers, but let’s NOT consider your company. Let’s consider your customers. Let’s think about your employees. Let’s understand their behaviour and their expectations … and in doing so, the answer to the question may become clear.

In The Future of Your Brand is Micro, I was looking at the way that thousands of transactional interactions with digital brands is transforming our views of organisations. Today, Seth Godin has a post that deals precisely with the same subject, but he takes it from the point of view of its outcome — to build trust. Each day as we, in our various life roles (ie those that include our professional responsibilities as well as family etc) come in contact with brands, we are engaging emotionally with a brand promise of some kind.

But Robyn McMaster points out that the impact goes far beyond “engagement”. The Journal of Consumer Research reports that “even the briefest exposure to well-known brand logos can cause people to behave in ways that mirror those brands’ traits”. So, it seems, that posters of the Nike brand ambassadors CAN make you me better athlete — and this, in turn, will reinforce my own commitment to that brand — after all, positive reinforcement is a well-known winner.

The opportunity for brands to begin building trust and engaging with their consumers through social media and blogs etc is compelling. Not only can social media begin building a network of trust between the brand and its consumers, but the continued (micro) exposure will bring closer identification between the two. It is also important to remember that your employees are also consumers — and they have expectations of your brand and are well known to be the best source of brand ambassadors/evangelists.

With all this in mind, is there a need for a “chief blogger”? In a corporate setting, a social media strategy cannot be implemented without a sense of leadership within the organisation and without a commitment to conversation around the brand in the marketplace. Therefore, realistically, you are looking at a senior, experienced executive in charge of your social media program — whether the focus is on blogging or on consumer experience. Why is this so?

  • Politics — whether we like it or not, politics is a fact of corporate life. To be able to overcome or manage the various roadblocks around social media within an organisation, you need commitment to a LONG TERM outreach strategy. The only way to ensure this is senior executive support.
  • Reporting — while bloggers understand the types of metrics that make sense in the social media space (ie readers, subscribers, inbound links etc), you also need someone with serious business knowledge to be able to match these statistics to business objectives and outcomes.
  • Brand voice — regardless of whether social media is taken on by a team or an individual, at some point there needs to be a level of responsibility for the tone of your brand voice.
  • Cross-line of business responsibility — social media does not fit into a neat box. Sure it deals with customer experience, but it can also impact HR, product development, innovation, finance and of course, marketing. It is not a silo — but a cross-line of business initiative is difficult to activate.

There are many other aspects to consider, but a social media chief may well be the key differentiator in the future of your brand.

Blogger Social 2008 Matt Dickman via Compfight