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Should you be represented by your logo or your people? July 27, 2009

Posted by Joanna Geary in Uncategorized.
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This is a very interesting debate that I got into the other day. When you develop a brand’s presence online what should take priority: the logo and brandname or the picture and names of the people that work for you?

These are two accounts from my previous job at The Bimingham Post newspaper. Firstly the Post’s own Twitter account:

PostTwitter

And secondly the Twitter account of Marc Reeves, editor of The Post:

PostMarc

@birminghampost has slightly more followers than @marcreeves, but I would argue that Marc’s followers have built up a far stronger association with The Post through their interaction with him. People are far more likely to warm to and chat with a friendly face than a logo, aren’t they?

However, does Marc really embody The Post brand? Isn’t he just representing himself? What if he says something that clashes with the Post’s identity? By having individuals represent your brand are you not failing to take reponsibility for what your company is trying to convey to the world?

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Comments

1. Marc Reeves - July 27, 2009

Hi Jo. Thanks for the plug. And in a an apparent bout of the complete hypocrisy I’m famous for, I’ve just started a Twitter war with all the PR agencies that follow me as entities rather than as individuals.

Hang on, Reeves, don’t you run several Twitter channels with Post branding all over them?

Yes, but the difference is that these news feeds are exactly that: people choose to follow them, or not, for the timely information and links they provide. Interaction is minimal, and we don’t purport to have conversations via these channels. That job falls to the many writers and editors within the Post team who very successfully do engage with readers via Twitter. This is where the sharing, moaning, joking and crowdsourcing goes on, and, as a ‘brand manager’ I’m very happy with that, as the editorial team embodies all the values of the Post.

That probably puts media organisations in a unique position when it comes to using social media: the Post ‘brand’ can only ever be what comes out of the heads of my writers every day. For other, non-media brands, who much more tightly design and control their products, I wonder if that kind of liberty is ever an option.

2. Ed Hart - July 27, 2009

As a self employed consulatant, I quickly realised that people were more interested in me as a person, than in the brand of my business. I am my brand. Marc has represented the Post well on Twitter, and been a mine of useful information.
Personally, I would rather follow a person than a logo any day.

3. Nick Petrie - July 28, 2009

This is something i have been working on at my student paper Redbrick. I have my own personal twitter account, and then we have several Redbrick accounts. However i know that i am heavily associated with Redbrick and tweet about Redbrick from my personal account.

Yet i won’t be with Redbrick forever, in fact this is pretty much guaranteed, one more year and thats it. So what happens when i move on from brand Redbrick?

We also have a fairly high turnover of section ed staff, due to the transient nature of university. So although each section will be responsible for their own twitter account and it will take on the identity of the two editors – this will change often as well.

What problems does it present for brand Redbrick in the long term? Although it is worth noting that students (our main media/news consumers) change every 3/4 years, so maybe the mutating identity of the accounts won’t matter because students won’t be around long enough to notice…

4. natalie - July 28, 2009

I agree with both Ed and Marc, I also prefer to follow a person than a brand. However i still feel it is important for brands to have presence on twitter.
I have recently added @bigcatcomms to twitter after months of twittering from @nataliebigcat. This is purely to support the Big Cat Communication blog which has recently launched. I don’t want to bombard @nataliebigcat followers with tweets about PR all day long… therefore have set up a separate account whereby @bigcatcomms can tweet to the PR hungry tweeters (I know its crazy but there are some out there!)

5. ilicco - July 28, 2009

it really depends why you are following the person/brand – there is room for both – and there is nothing to stop you following both for different reasons. – slightly annoying is when a journo links to a piece they’ve written by retweeting the auto-fed feed from the blog where it appears, or are obviously using the same app to dual tweet to different accounts. not fully sure what the “right” answer is, but would probably say that both ways are “right” for different reasons. i see no reason why you cant have a human behind a branded account and say so – there is no reason they need to be annonymous. (BNO do a good job of that, transparently “passing” the account from once person to another at set times of the day)

6. Anthony Big Cat - July 28, 2009

I think most people follow a wide range of brands, individuals, corporations and media. The point is that it is very easy to choose and unchoose who you follow on Twitter. At Big Cat we try to cover industry relevant topics with our ‘corporate’ feeds but we also understand that staff are people and they have friends and interests. We all tend to work with people whom we like and so allowing our consultants’ personalities to shine through in their own twitter feeds helps deepen potential clients, staff or friends whether they like us or not.

7. Sam Shepherd - July 28, 2009

It’s a very interesting question. I run the account for our paper, @Bournemouthecho, and early on made the decision to respond to the readers who addressed us via that account.

That has developed into the Echo having a distinct Twitter personality that includes retweets, conversations, daft competitions, links to our content and things we think the readers might like.

I COULD have done all these things from my twitter account, but then what would happen when I want to tweet things from that account that aren’t related to the paper? (A bit like you hvaing a work and private account, Jo).

There are cons to our Twitter face being a nameless one, mainly when people complain about something the paper is doing and I have to respond as the paper.

But the positive reaction we get from readers has so far outweighed that. If I’m not sure what the “official” response would be to a tweet then I ask, but mostly it’s obvious. And what we gain is a consistent online personality that’s transferred to our other social networks, like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

It may be because our readership is smaller but it seems people like chatting to “the paper” even though they realise that it’s something of an illusion.

8. If your names not down, you’re not coming in « Big Cat Communication - July 29, 2009

[…] and dagger amongst the twittersphere and the marketing community for months now; cropping up on blog posts, tweets and more recently into the media with a feature about it on BBC Radio 4 this […]

9. NG01 - August 3, 2009

I can honestly say that I can see both sides of the coin on this but in my opinion, I believe that by having a named individual on a corporate account, people build a relationship not with the brand but with the person representing the brand at that moment in time.

I do accept that when you have a number of people on the same Twitter account then naming them helps distinguish who they are, especially if they have clear roles within the account. But by having a named individual, what do you do when that person leaves the company? Are people expected to start-over with the new person?

Also, the assumption is that a brand only has an online presence on Twitter and is only based in one country. Many brands have a myriad of channels (offline and online) that they use to engage and listen to their customers. Lastly, as Sam has mentioned above, consistency is also very important and you try to create a personality for your brand.

Social media sites are fairly new channels for a lot of brands and thankfully nothing is set in stone.


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