4 Principles For Strengthening Your Social Brand

A social brand is a transparent brand, and that’s just what consumers want. They’re tired of being lied to with offers that are too good to be true. They’re sick of being interrupted with irrelevant ads in their daily lives. They get enough of it from tv commercials and website popups. So when they visit their favourite social media sites, they expect brands to behave and be tame. Consumers want a less bombarding and more personal experience.

Your brand is reflected in everything your company says and does. And when you ‘say’ and ‘do’ via social media, that reflection travels at the speed of a browser refresh and amplifies louder than a thousand clicks of a share button.

Practicing these four principles will help you strengthen your social brand communications across all digital media.

1. Remember your brand’s core values

Whenever you sit down to craft a message, write an email, update your fan page, send out a tweet, or respond to a commenter, think of your brand’s core values and personality. Before writing a single word, ask yourself: will this help or hurt the brand? Is it congruent with what the brand stands for? Stay aligned and relevant, and you will communicate your message more appropriately.

If you’re just getting your brand onto social sites, then start by listening to your audience first. What are they talking about? What are they sharing with their friends? What questions are they asking? Once you get to know your audience’s interests, questions, and frustrations, you can begin interacting with them and offering up the type of content that they’re already sharing.

2. Help your employees believe in your brand

Absolutely everyone in your organization holds the responsibility of reinforcing your brand. If your people don’t believe in the brand’s vision and values, then they won’t be able to properly interact with outside parties. If they confuse or offend your customers somehow, it will only damage your image. This translates to the offline world as well. Employees must understand and agree with your brand before they can go off on their own and talk with consumers, partners, investors, suppliers, distributors, and the media. Make it a habit to consistently praise and reward actions that show brand responsibility.

Workers come and go. On average, a person holds a job for around two to five years. Somehow, it is up to you to make sure the brand’s culture is passed down to the newbies, like a legend is passed down to younger generations one conversation at a time. The experienced workers who understand your brand may be gone tomorrow, and the fresh ones that join have no idea what’s going on… until you educate them. Ongoing internal training is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page and your corporate culture doesn’t weaken over time.

3. Build relationships and create brand advocates

A social brand has to be social. Period. Throwing up a Facebook page with your logo on it and getting some “likes” is merely a half-assed attempt at social branding. It takes deep two-way conversations with consumers, and the building of relationships. Some companies use social media mainly for customer service, and it works wonders for them. For example, of all the tweets sent out from Whole Foods Market on Twitter (@WholeFoods), 85% are responses to customer comments, according to Bill Tolany, Head of Integrated Media.

Offering special treatments or incentives to happy customers can turn them into brand advocates. If a customer already likes your product or service, and you treat them right, they may start to share your vision and spread your message for you. What’s more, brand advocates naturally influence the opinions and buying behaviours of their family and friends, because that’s who people trust the most.

You could even think about starting your own brand advocacy program. Check out the Ford Fiesta Movement, in which 100 “Fiesta Agents” across the US get to drive a Fiesta for 6 months, complete monthly missions, and share their experiences in various ways. You can also check out the Microsoft MVP Program, consisting of around 4,000 teachers, artists, doctors, engineers, and technologists who share their know-how with huge online followings.

4. Respond properly to negative feedback

A social brand is an exposed brand, open to negative feedback and criticism. But dealing with negativity in the right way can turn a critic into your next customer or an angry customer into your next number one fan. The results of negative feedback depend entirely on how you deal with them. Handle them well, and you become a star; ignore them, and you might as well hang your logo on the corporate wall of shame.

We can’t be all things to all people, so you’re bound to receive complaints in one form or another. When an unhappy someone posts a complaint about your product or service, others tend to follow along and add their two cents as well. Whatever you do, don’t ignore this. It can snowball out of control unless you respond properly. However, if you say something wrong, it’ll make things worse.

One of the best and easiest things you can do is simply offer help (or maybe an apology) to the original complainer. It shows that you care about how your customers feel. And as customers, we love that sort of thing, don’t we?

Being a social brand means talking to people as a professional human, as if you were talking to them face-to-face. With pretty much any company and any type of response, you’ll want to keep it friendly and helpful, but at the same time, feel free to let your brand personality shine through. Then, before hitting the send button, get a second pair of eyes to check your tone of voice. Align your messages with the vision and values of the company. Continually educate your employees and make sure they are with you 100%.

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Paying Utilities For REO Properties

I Want to List REO’s, but How Much will it Cost?I’ve written in the past about how to list REO’s for banks, but what many agents overlook are the related expenses that go along with carrying many REO listings.Listing REO’s can be very rewarding, but many agents neglect to plan ahead and understand that they will be paying utilities for REO properties that they have listed.This HUB will detail exactly what you can expect and give you some tricks and tips on how to not get in over your head as you start paying utilities for REO properties.What Types of Bills WIll I have to Pay for My REO Listings?Read this twice: It’s not just utilities and its not just while you have the REO property listed!It is incredibly important to understand the lifestyle of a REO listing as you start to budget paying utilities for REO properties. Most REO listings start out as “an assignment.” This means that the bank or asset manager have decided that you will list the property. However, many times the property is in no condition to be listed.To get the assignment ready to be put on the market, you may have to have one or more of the following services performed:
Trash Out (all debris, junk and left over belongings removed and hauled away)
Cleaning
Water shut off / Winterization
Pipe Repair
Lawn / Snow MaintenanceObviously these services are not free. What many agents fail to realize is that the banks expect you to pay for these services up front. Yes they will reimburse you, but it can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days.Once the REO Property Becomes a Listing…Once your REO assignment becomes a listing, most of the major costs have been paid for (trash outs, pipe repair, etc). Hopefully your client will reimburse you quickly.Now is when you need to make sure you are current on the REO listing’s gas, water and electric bill. In colder climates, If the heat gets turned off, the pipes will freeze and your home will never sell. If you have no electricity, buyers can’t view the home.Also, don’t forget that if you don’t stay current paying utilities for REO properties, they can become a lien on the home. If there is a lien on a REO listing that you are trying to sell, it can delay a closing substantially. That means you’re waiting even longer for your money.Tips for Paying Utilities for REO PropertiesNow that I’ve scared you out of the business, let me try and give you some tips for paying utilities for REO properties. This could save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid the huge cash drain that getting into the REO business can create.

Know Your Contractors: I can not stress this enough. If you have a good relationship with your services you can save a substantial amount of money for the services. If your contractors know they will get all of your business, their rates will be lower. If their rates are lower, you have less money that you are waiting to be reimbursed for.

Negotiate with Your Contractors: As you get into this business, you’ll be contacted by many service providers in every industry trying to earn your business. That’s great for your cash flow situation! Set up agreements with them that you will pay them immediately AFTER THE BANK SENDS YOU A CHECK. Even if its only $100, once you get up to 30 or 40 listings, that money adds up. If they won’t wait for the bank to pay you, offer to pay them half up front and half once you are reimbursed. As you get started listing REO’s and paying utilities for REO properties, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can carry the costs because “it’s only one listing.” Take a long term approach and think about every transaction multiplied by 40 listings.

Talk to your local bank: Many banks will be more apt to make a small business loan if you explain that the money will only be used for paying utilities for REO properties. If you can show them your client list, many banks will take that into consideration when factoring in risks. When they are lending against big name lending institutions and know that you will be reimbursed, its much easier for them to justify loaning you the money than if you were using it for marketing or business expansion.
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