Tapping social media tools to build brands from the inside-out

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Everyone knows that positioning your brand in a clear, compelling and distinctive way can help build a strong brand. But all that can mean nothing if the people who are responsible for delivering the brand experience fall short. This can happen for many reasons. Maybe the employees don’t understand the business strategy and brand goals. Perhaps the message is not getting out because of poor internal communications or a siloed culture. Whatever the case, when employees are not singing from the same song sheet, it undermines the customer experience and weakens the brand.

So how can you foster internal alignment?

Social media and networking tools can play a vital role in getting everyone on board. While most companies are using social media to engage with consumers, the tools can also be directed internally to inform, empower and inspire employees. Most importantly, it gets everyone to work in concert toward building a strong brand.

Consider the recent CBS reality show “Undercover Boss,” where CEOs worked covertly among the rank and file of their own organizations. Sure some companies have more employees than a small city, but it is pretty amazing that employees may not know what the “head honcho” looks like. Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO and president of Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle in January 2010), penned a blog during his transition into the CEO role so employees could get to know him better and understand his strategic goals.

Blogging can help employees at every level “get it.” Such actions can make business or brand goals feel more personal even in a large organization. This internal dialogue can engender a feeling among employees that they are part of something bigger and greater than their day-to-day work realities.

Social media tools can also facilitate internal collaboration and coordination, which can be especially helpful when a company spans multiple geographies or a consumer-oriented process crosses several functional areas. A Twitter-like tool called Chatter from Salesforce.com poses the question: “What are you working on?” Chatter allows a sales rep from one region to solicit the help of colleagues in other offices to tackle a business challenge or work together to solve a client problem. Employees can readily engage with one another around this virtual water cooler, and share best practices. This “real time collaboration cloud” creates a one-company feeling that can connect and align an organization.

Social media tools may not be an obvious choice for building a brand from the inside-out. But, brand-building requires that you think creatively about all the marketing tools at your disposal to solve a problem—and even re-purposing a tool beyond its conventional use.

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