Companies like Zappos and Virgin America have utilized social media to build strong, positive brand images that permeate the web and have improved their bottom lines. Blog posts, Twitter updates, outreach, and authenticity have all played a role in building their images. But what if you already have an image, but want to go in another direction?
Rebranding, as any marketer will tell you, is one of the most challenging, painstaking, and sometimes expensive business propositions around. Breaking current customer conceptions does not come easy. Luckily this is one area where social media can help accelerate your efforts. By utilizing the reach of the social web, you can reposition yourself for better opportunities. Here are a few important tips on how to succeed in this effort:
1. Formulate your strategy first: Don’t go blind into a rebranding effort. You can quickly damage your brand, your reputation, and your business. Know what you want to become and what social accounts are going to get you there.
2. Set a new tone with all your accounts: Your blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other accounts are platforms to directly reach your customers. Talk about your new direction and speak about what’s happening at the company.
3. Change your look: If you’re really looking to rebrand, you’ve got to start by shifting associations. People link your colors and your design with certain traits and emotions. When repositioning, break those concepts by changing design elements (or even your logo) on your website and your social media accounts. A redesign can go a long way.
4. Answer customer questions publically: Customers will inevitably get confused by the change in direction. They’ll wonder what you do and whether you’re the same company they came to rely upon. Answer those questions publically using Facebook comments, detailed blog posts, and Twitter @reply comments. Explain, as succinctly as possible, who you were and what you want to be.
5. Blog constantly during the transition: Keep your customers in the loop about changes, new features, and new products. By constantly engaging your audience, they will be able to see this transformation step-by-step, rather than be shocked at the end result.
6. Be authentic: Most of all, don’t be coy about the rebranding. You can’t fool people in the era of the social web. One user can call you out for being disingenuous and soon everyone is repeating it. Be honest about the reinvention, why you’re doing it, and what’s in store for the future.