“Getting attention for your brand (personal or company) is easier than ever thanks to the ole’ interweb but doing it with “zing” is still key to building a following. Learn and ask question from the people who have built brands and careers by doing it with “zing”.”
Colt: Building your brand is that much easier now. People will learn more about you than they will from your resume.
Chapman: People are scared about web 2.0, that you can talk about anything across all channels.
[Pause for horsing around by panelists]
Question: How do you balance?
Loic: Personal aspect if very important, it shows you as you really are. I want to see there faces
Delaney: Like in Twitter, it’s really hard to BS in 140 or less. You can get an idea of what people are about pretty quickly, it’s hard to BS.
Colt: I’ve decided what my brand is, and it’s genuine with my personality. I’m the world’s smartest marketer with a little bit of creepy. If I’m using this tool to find clients or work, these people will jave to work with me, so why not show them who I am.
Question: How did you guys start your brand?
Chapman: I started out blogging. I just started reading and treated it as my own personal journal. Whatever you’re passionate about, just go with it.
Delaney: Twitter is a great way to build a brand and interact with your audience.
Loic: Answer every single piece of feedback, especially when it’s negative.
Delaney: I won’t answer all feedback about our products.
Colt: I’m of the belief that you should answer everything, except when it’s super super negative, you can never get rid of all the negativity, and at some point you need to figure out when you should just opt out of a conversation.
Chapman: If you’re on Twitter, you need to be a brand that is ready to talk about yourself, and handle the negativity. Some brand are just plain not ready for that.
Question: How far do you do in helping companies figure out their plan? Do you Tweet for them?
Brogan: Hell no.
Chapman: Kick the person out of the nest, they have to learn to do it on their own. Teach them, and then hold their hand at first.
Delaney: Don’t drive the car.
Question: Where do you focus your energies if you’re supposed to handle all the social media “stuff” for a brand?
Colt: figure out what one is the most successful, and spend 80% of your time on that platform.
Question: Would you launch generally or go in stealth mode? When you go with a name, should you go with the Double “O”…. Google, Yahoo….?
Loic: Launch as soon as you can, and be open, build it and share it in public.
Question: What do you think about the fact that social media might not be for everyone?
Colt: Social media is a tool.
Brogan: Do you have to use social media all the time? Hell no. Where’s your customer, and where’s the needle moving? Does something happen when you do it?
Question: What about using social media to brand locally?
Delaney: Getting everyone together around a small event is a good way of solidifying a social media strategy.
Brogan: It’s cheap and free, you just need sweat equity. BrightKite is great for location-based. If in your area, there aren’t enough people online, it might not be the right thing for you. But there are a lot of opportunities, you can do a lot of the smaller cafe-style conversations, just a few people.
Chapman: Facebook allows you to do targetted ads by location. Get people aware of you, and it’s true word-of-mouth.
Delaney: You could set up a search on Twitter or whatever for your town. When people mention it, just say something back to them.
Question: What about rebranding?
Colt: You still have to worry about your product. You’re empowering people to tell everyone they know about your product, so if it’s bad, it spreads three times quicker than if it’s great. Be careful then with things like WOM.
Brogan: It’s a question you have to ask internally: how much do you want it to suck? And how much do you want people to know that it sucks?
Colt: There’s something to be said about a brand that says that they know it stinks and that they’re working on it. People really like that.
Loic: Lack of transparency is very passe.
Audience: Have the lawyers reference the case of Tylenol, the effects of addressing it or you’re not addressing it.
Loic: I make a point of never saying that my competitors suck.
Question: A lot of brands don’t disclose who’s Tweeting on behalf of them. Is there a best practice there?
Colt: I think it’s really important. People want to be dealing with people, not brands.
Chapman: What happens when someone leaves though? That’s a hard thing to do.
Colt: You can have several people though.
Chapman: How do you handle when those personalities leave?
[UPDATE: Check out Andy Sernovitz's recent case study on Freshbooks and word-of-mouth (WOM).]