Building an Authentic Brand OnlineTuesday, May 24, 2011
Luxury is the possibility to stay close to your customers, and do things you know they will love. If you do luxury, you have to treat people in a human way. -- Christian Louboutin
One of the fastest ways to ruin your brand's reputation online is to use a ghost blogger or ghost tweeter. While this is true for any company, it is especially applicable in the wedding industry, where the average bride or groom is a Millennial and the average bride or groom having a second wedding is part of Generation X. Like it or not, both Millennials and Generation Xers view ghost posting as lying and trying to change their mind about it is a losing game. Once you've lost their trust, they won't buy from you and their word of mouth referral has soured.
Part of the generational aversion to this practice has to do with saving face: if someone on Twitter thinks they're talking to the owner of the company because the ghost tweeter is pretending to be that person, when they find out that they're not (and they always do find out eventually), they feel embarrassed and deceived. In an age where talent abounds, that person will turn to someone else who can do the work and who doesn't lie to them through social media.
This isn't to say that you as the owner or CEO has to be the one writing the posts - it just can't be someone pretending to be you. For example, the blog for Ron Ben-Israel Cakes is written by Ron's director of operations, Rebecca, and its entire premise is a behind the scenes look at her job, not Ron's. The blog is interesting, funny and even though Ron isn't the star of the blog and it's not his voice, the blog's authenticity builds more trust in their company (it also helps that Rebecca isn't pitching their cakes in every post, just talking about life working for a famous cake designer). The same can be said of Oscar de la Renta's approach to social media: their Twitter, Tumblr and other social media accounts are all named OscarPRGirl and are a peek into her job behind the scenes at one of the world's most famous fashion houses. Both of these companies are using social media in a way that is human and treats their readers as smart people worthy of connecting with in an honest fashion.
If you own a company and know that you can't make time to personally use social media, have an assistant or an associate set up an account for the company and have them post from their point of view. (Important note: this aspect of social media needs to be in-house; the best social media or PR firms will not ghost blog or tweet for you because they know how it will impact your offline business goals.) If you have a platform that is updated by multiple people in your company, such as Twitter, have them sign each person sign their initials at the end of their posts so that readers know who they are interacting with any any given time.
Trust is difficult to build and one of the easiest things to lose. Just as you wouldn't outsource a date with your partner or an important meeting, you can't grow a strong, healthy company by faking a relationship with readers online.
Photo of Beka Rendell by Marie Labbancz