The corporate umbrella has had to become much narrower in some ways. Marketing, PR, HR, sales, advertising, etc., were once all in-house entities, tightly managed and controlled and protected. Assimilating input from outsiders, including customers, was not typical. Social media requires engaging and interacting with customers in a whole new way. Businesses must connect with their target market deeper than ever or risk customers doing business elsewhere. This new approach goes against the old school way of thinking (social media is not a priority [ignorance]) and tightly protecting information and new innovation (control). Customer service has evolved to a point where a customer can instantly chat online or in-person with a customer service representative. Good customer services is providing customers with instant answers and feedback, and social media can serve to make or break a company based on just a few good or poor interactions. Incidents of great or really bad customer service can race around the world in a matter of minutes, and customers can be gained or lost at the same speed.
Megan Biro’s article in Forbes speaks to this point and drives home the point of brand ownership. I agree with her logic (how could I not) and believe that the “brand” needs to be monitored and guidelines set to ensure that the brand stands apart from the brand ambassador, who may have his/her own personal brand. Keeping the line in the SoMe sand between personal and the company brand might be difficult, but it’s clearly needed. Since customer loyalty can now be shifted from brand to brand “handler,” it’s critical the two must be kept separate.