>Are you much cooler online?

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Are you more like Jason Alexander in Brad Paisley’s hit country song and video “Online” or do you let your true self appear online? In the song/video, Alexander sings about changing his appearance, occupation and wealth via his online alter-ego. With the explosion of any medium such as social media, also comes the inevitable claim of “experts” that pledge to increase your reputation and presence online. While there is much truth to search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), the later being a pay-per-click option, I would caution you to monitor and control how much of your company brand you allow to be created by outside consultants.

Let’s face it, LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook are just not that hard to use. The danger is not as much in identity theft and spam message (simply do not click on anything you do not recognize, just like that old communication method called email) as in the impact these services have on your brand. Who are you entrusting with your image?

Think of your brand as a person. Your brand and identity is much more than your logo, web appearance or the design your company brochure. What would your brand do or say in a particular situation? How would Southwest Airlines react to controversy vs. General Electric? Whether you are a startup or a well-established company, your brand is your identity. So, why would you let someone pretend to be you or a representative from your company? You just might end up with “Peggy” the bearded, clueless and very male credit-card customer-service representative. Thickly accented Peggy works for “USA Prime Credit” in a snowbound shack in the middle of nowhere. While the commercial for Discover highlights the outsourcing of customer service, you could end up with your own Peggy.

Your clients and prospects know you, your sales and customer service staff. They experience your brand at every interaction. They will also know if your social media is not inline with that brand. By all means, seek help in creating your online presence. It is a key component (not the end all) of your marketing plan. But, in the end, it should be you and your staff posting and responding to web interactions. If you trust outsiders like a certain player’s “decision” it will stink to high heaven. The result could be a brand crash harder than any pro golfer or would-be champ could resurrect. Find your own champions in your organization and give them a voice. You will be amazed at how much it sounds like you.

Rob Felber

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