What is Social Brand Management?

an interview with
Nicole Bohorad Senior Manager, Social Media Marketing, Capital One

Some might think that the phrase “Social Brand Management” is a multidimensional oxymoron given the prevailing notion that companies have ceded control of their brands to the consumer AND that social may be the last place brands can be managed. Fortunately, Social Brand Management is among the many misconceptions being tackled at this week’s Social Media World Forum in NYC.  Nicole Bohorad, Senior Manager, Social Media Marketing at Capital One is on the Social Brand Management panel and as you will see from the interview below, provides some terrific insights into how her company is grabbing the reins from the proverbial marauding hordes.  (And at the risk of killing the suspense, I did not ask Nicole, “what’s in her wallet?” but be my guest if you’re coming to the conference!)

Drew: So what exactly is “social brand management?”
We see this as guiding people’s perception of our brand, and the ability to direct consideration for and involvement with the brand, through the use of various social channels and social technologies.

Drew: How do reconcile the common desire to “manage” social and the desire for social to be “organic?” Does one necessarily negate the other?
Of most importance, we focus on social being organic. We know our customers recognize Capital One’s brand equity in being clever & funny, and this is something that compells them to share stories about our core values – best value, ease of use and great user experience. To do this effectively, however, we must manage the process by amplifying reach to our most active and supportive customers on social. They then act as evangelists for other customers who are not as loyal or new to the brand. We do this through tactics, including content calendar strategy, social listening and moderation, public relations and advertising to inform our content around topics customers want to hear.

Drew: Can you give me an or two example of how Capital One is “managing” social right now?
We are actively participating in moderation through engagement with customers in live Tweeting events, such as with History Channel’s Mankind The Story of All of Us. This series includes a focus on the creation of commerce and money, so it gives us an opportunity to bring value to the story and engage with fans of the show while talking about our expertise.

We are also monitoring the success of our content performance on Facebook and develop page post ads that highlight the most engaging content. We’ve found, specifically, that our focus on travel interests does quite well, so by including this content in ads, our fans are able to endorse their interactivity for their friends to notice in their newsfeeds and take interest.

Drew: Has social matured this year and if so how has that effected your approach to social?
Yes, it has. Key channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, have started to really differentiate their platforms across user base, content posting strategy, reason for using the channel, and accessing the channel (such as mobile). This has caused us to fine-tune our content with a focus on using each one for a specific purpose, such as a real-time news and interests for Twitter, and travel memories and sports stories (around our NCAA experience) on Facebook.

There has also been a greater focus on analytics measurement, where channels have to prove their effectiveness – not only to show how content and ads drive actions and business back to our site and product use, but also how the channels are playing a greater role in affecting media consumption – for example, how Twitter conversations are affecting consideration for brands on TV.

Last, greater linkable search capabilities, such as Google’s ability to tie Google+ with YouTube, and social listening tools that tie into social channels, have proven to add a critical new layer that informs product insight and organic content development.

Drew: Did you try any emerging platforms this year and if so, how did it go?
We launched our Google+ page in May with a focus on travel (tied to our Venture Card), as we saw this was an area ripe for content development. Google recognized the quality of our posts and featured us in their Travel Circle, giving us exposure to more fans with a passion for travel. This has helped us become a financial category leader on the channel, with more than 80,000 featuring us in their circles.

Drew: Capital One has expanded well beyond credit cards in the last few years. What are the tricks to managing social with so many lines of business under one brand name?
Not only that, we have extended our social presence in both Canada and the UK. Luckily, we have strong brand standard guidelines that help guide us in the way that the brand is represented consistently on social channels. We also have a strong brand personality stemming from our TV campaigns that we work to maintain across channels. But we don’t have all the answers yet, and we are continuing to test and learn as we go.

Drew: What’s on your wish list for 2013 in terms of social brand management?
We are going to be refining our brand engagement approach on core social media channels. We want to monitor analytics more closely to define how we attain key brand and business metrics from social content. We also want to test new channels to see where we can extend our brand conversation with consumers. We hope to look at how social can affect brand affinity when coupled with TV viewing behavior. Last, we want to refine our approach to social advertising as it relates to building the most loyal customer bases on social channels who can share our message.

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