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Summary by Darla Frank. From the American Marketing Association, "Marketing Matters Newsletter - From Social to Super Brands: Building Brands in the Digital Age"

The key to building successful brands on social networks means adapting to the ways consumers interact. It is stressed that marketers must learn to be comfortable in not having control of their brand, because in this age, the consumers have control. David Wiesenfeld, VP, Brand Advertiser for Nielsen Online says, “You don’t own the shelves anymore, It’s a much more level playing field.”

Knowing this, Brian Maynard, Director of Brand Marketing for Whirlpool, recognizes the importance of engaging the customer in an equally bound relationship. “It’s really about the spirit of talking with and not at consumers. You need to have something people can interact with.”

The most valuable tactic for marketers is to communicate with value. “Learn the motivation of the consumers you work with. If we don’t learn from our consumers, then building a brand in the digital space is not relevant.” How to go about brand evolving in this digital age plays by all the same principles of textbook marketing, just different tactics. In creating an online networking strategy, follow these 5 rules:

1. “Articulate Rules of Engagement. Which comments require a response? Which should be ignored? What’s the basic “etiquette” when posting a response?

2. Who Will You Be Engaging? Which target consumers or topics are most important?

3. Clarify Chain of Command. Who’s in charge of the effort? Who’s responsible for implementation? A best practice is to create a flow chart, which lists front-line responders along with back-ups and back-up protocols.

4. Structure Dictates Tone. Corporate blogs are often criticized for being bland and uninteresting. Often this stems from too much bureaucracy. By the time your response is posted, it’s been overly sanitized. A best practice is to have no more than two layers of approval and a turnaround time under three days.

5. Demand Transparency. The most successful corporate forays in social media are those which operate at the highest levels of transparency, whether informing consumers about product launches or publicly admitting mistakes.”

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