Before social media, a company shaped its brand primarily through advertising. It was easy to control the message and project the desired brand image. Since the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc., the game has changed dramatically. Companies now have a way to interact with customers and shape their brand in real-time. This can be either good or bad, depending on the company's approach to branding and marketing. Companies who were comfortable with and preferred a tightly controlled brand message are having a difficult time adapting to the new media landscape. On the other hand, companies who prefer a more customer-focused approach now have countless tools at their disposal.
In order to thrive in this environment, you must join the companies who have embraced social media and proactive customer engagement. Interacting with customers, responding to complaints (and compliments) and maintaining a social media presence are all essential parts of building your brand in this new marketing ecosystem. If you don't participate in social media, the conversation isn't going to stop just because you're ignoring it. Your customers are using social media on a daily basis and they're posting about their experiences with your company, good or bad. By accepting this fact and joining the conversation, you can leverage positive experiences, address negative situations, and build your brand in the process.