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Groundswell Consumer Profile Tool

Charlene Li on Future of Social Networks

Is your Brand Boring?

According to Josh Bernoff, senior analyst with Forrester and co-author of Groundswell (my favorite book to date on social media), there are two kinds of brands in the world–brands that people like to talk about and brands that people don’t like to talk about.

In his recent post “Social Strategy for Exciting (and Boring) Brands”, Bernoff writes, “Brands that people don’t like to talk about – I’ll call them “boring” brands – are everywhere. If, like most marketers, you market a boring brand, then you’re really earning your living as a marketer. That’s because you are trying to get people interested in something they don’t really care about.”

Bernoff is right–it can be difficult to get people or rather potential customers interested in a brand that is viewed as boring.

In his post, Bernoff writes:

The boring brands have different problem, but social applications can help them, too. The key with boring brands is to get people talking about their problems, since they won’t talk about your brand. In advertising, you can force messages on people watching other things. In a social context, this fails miserably.

Applications that talk about customers problems create “borrowed relevance,” since you generate talk they care about, then make yourself a part of it. And in perhaps the most dramatic example, Procter & Gamble knew girls wouldn’t talk about tampons, but would talk about music, cliques, and school, so it created beinggirl.com as a vehicle to deliver (very quietly) the occasional feminine care products message.

Apple retro
Creative Commons License photo credit: kyz

The key –whether using social media or traditional public relations and marketing– is to focus on talking about your customers problems and how you are helping to solve them. The key to success if you have a boring brand is not the product or service you are selling but how you are changing lives or companies through your product. But, this is a bitter pill for many companies to swallow. Many of the boring brands have fallen in love with their products and don’t want to accept that they are not the story. The engaged, happy customer is the story.

At the end of his post, Bernoff writes:

If your brand is talkable, your social efforts will surface the brand enthusiasts who have the most influence. If it’s boring, your social applications will help you find your rare but valuable brand enthusiasts, or even generate a few. Pay attention to these people. Because as advertising clutter rises and word of mouth becomes more important, they’re about to become some of your most important corporate assets.

How are you driving interest in your brand?

Social Media Jump in Now

“If you’re a B2B marketer and you’re not using social technologies in your marketing, it means you’re late,” reported Josh Bernoff, a Forrester principal analyst and co-author of the Groundswell, commenting on Forrester’s new report “The Social Technographics of Business Buyers.”

So if you are a B2B or even a B2C marketer and those words don’t scare you, I don’t know what else to say.

Yesterday I attended Gravity Summit’s Social Media Business Marketing Seminar at UCLA. The room was packed, the presenters were interesting and engaging, and the attendees were buzzing. But what it brought home to me was the number of businesses that had not yet jumped on the Social Media Band Wagon.


Jumping over the Saguenay river
Creative Commons License photo credit: pfala

The most common questions centered around Twitter. What was it, how it should be used, and was it worth learning about. Yes, it is worth learning about. No, it’s not scary. It’s new and everyone is figuring it out. Perfect time for you to jump in the conversation as well. But before you actually start “tweeting”, find some interesting people to follow and listen to them.

The important give away about Social Media is that there are many tools out there today—blogging, Twitter, Wikis, smart media releases, FaceBook, LinkedIn to name just a few—but you don’t have to utilize them all to start. Start small. And start reading. Read “Groundswell” first. You don’t want to be left behind this year.

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