Make Your Employees Rock Stars: Branding And Marketing With Steve Rubel

The average American visits 111 domains a month, according to Nielsen, or 2500 Web pages a month. “That includes everything–your bank, Facebook, everything.” That doesn’t leave a lot of space for your brand. And people need to hear things 3-5 times for those things to “sink in.” So how do you build your brand?

When getting your message out, know that digital “elites”—people who spend a lot of time online— trust employees over execs, and their friends as much as employees. Most trusted, though, are stock/industry analyst reports and articles in traditional magazines. (Strangely, though 44% trust business magazines, only 34% trust newspapers.)

So what do you do to gain some of that valuable share?

Steve Rubel, director of insights for Edelman, says companies should think of branding an organization as a sports team: Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio are individual brands that make up part of the brand of the Yankees. Similarly, “you need to put your employees out there and let them help build your brand in a careful way.” Personal brands, Rubel says, “ladder up” to corporate brands.

Customers’ online networks will become more important, Rubel says. Google will suggest search terms based on what your friends are searching. Facebook and Friendfeed already suggest friends to follow. “If you’re not there as a corporation and your competitors are,” that’s a problem.

If you’re ready to take the leap for your company, look for savvy employees who are already on Facebook or Twitter that you can “blow up” and make huge. “Make them into the Madonna of your company,” Rubel says.

If not a Madonna, create a Beatles—a whole cabal of social media people. Kodak, for example, has a page aggregating all their employees’ Twitters and a Chief Blogging Officer. “Customers want to see the faces of your company. Set those folks free. For a lot of companies, that’s difficult. They want the CEO to be the star.” Can’t do that if nobody trusts the CEO anymore.

And remember, customer service on Twitter —Quickenloans, Comcast, Zappos, etc., — “isn’t just customer service. It’s branding.”

How? Even if your customers aren’t on Twitter, everything comes up on Google. Frank’s Twitter feed now shows up higher in Google than the video of a Comcast tech sleeping on a customer’s couch.