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Who Owns Your Brand’s Social Story?

It’s not your customers.

Set down the grape kool-aid and let’s rap for a second.

I know that many smart folks are extremely excited by how consumers are using their new found power to influence companies. Some are even implying that customer sentiment is the only real key driver for marketing success.  In my opinion, this is going a bit too far.

Before we get carried away – understand that your customers are the consumers and sharers of your Brand Story…but don’t think for an instant that they build or control it. (Just because they can destroy it doesn’t mean they created it)

And if you think they do, you’ll be doing all of the wrong things for the wrong reason.

For that matter, your Agency, CMO, or Social Media Manager don’t own or create your Brand’s Social Story either.

In fact, they play the same role as the customer.  We (I’m a Marketing Veep) spread the brand story just like customers on Twitter.  Even though we are obsessed with the virality of the brand story – we aren’t the creators.

The real creator of your brand story (at least the main steward) hasn’t taken the stage much in our conversations.  The tools he/she uses aren’t even talked about in most of our keynote speeches.

So, who does create your Brand’s Social Story?

(more precisely….What creates your Story?)

It’s  Culture.

The traditions, rituals, experience, and rules that hold a business together and gives it an identity.  Out of this culture springs creativity, inspiration, process, systems, values, and core beliefs. When our customer’s touch this culture they walk away changed.  Just ask someone who has interacted with the Zappos culture. Or the legions of raving fans that has received an Amazon shipment.  Culture is the beginning of the Brand’s Social Story – the genesis of great Social (…media) Stories.


Who is the Owner and Real Manager of Your Brand’s Social Story?

The CEO (yep, the person who normally doesn’t show up for the social media meeting)

The leader.  All the best CEOs feel deep down in their bones that their #1 contribution is to create a culture that sustains, revitalizes, and builds a great company.  If they do their job right, they get Apple.  If they do it wrong they get Lehman brothers.

At the end of the day, If the CEO isn’t connected with customers, employees, investors, and partners then the company lacks the social “oomph” to become memorable.  Customers still buy products but rate their purchase as a necessity.  Employees do their jobs but race home at 5 to do something significant.  This isn’t exactly the foundation for a inspirational social media program.

If you are entrusted with your organization’s social media program then I’m begging you to do one thing first.  Find the keeper of the culture, move your desk into the same office and THEN go to work.  If that is the CEO, show them this post. Tell them that the Social Media program will not work without their spark.  If they ignore you then go work somewhere else.  You’ll thank me for it .

Do you agree?  Can a great Social Story be crafted by a “hired gun” with a creative brief?

Creative Commons License photo credit: paularps

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About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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