8 ways to become a better brand leader online

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Behind any great brand there is a great leader, but contrary to popular belief, not all great leaders are ‘born that way’. Some of them spend a huge amount of time up-skilling themselves and learning what sets greatness apart.

Although leadership is critical, it’s often underestimated, and if your brand isn’t at the forefront of leadership, then where exactly are you?

Here are eight tips on how to help you and your brand become the leader in your industry.

1. Listen

Any good relationship is built on understanding, and that ultimately comes from listening. In order to understand what your customers want, need, feel, talk about and share you need to take a step back and let them tell you.

Like great leaders, great brands listen to what their customers want and need, but they also listen to what challenges they are facing.

Social media and tools like ORM allow us to consistently listen and monitor the conversations happening online about our brands. The bottom line is that these conversations are happening whether you like it or not. So to put it frankly, ‘Shut up and listen’.

2. Tell stories

The way we communicate about our brands, products or services is key and in today online environment storytelling is the most powerful way to do this.

The online world is all about visuals. Use them to tell your brand stories. Don’t forget that you’re not the only one with a story to tell. Allow your customers to share their own experiences and stories, and then make sure you respond and thank them for doing so.

Telling stories helps your customers put your brand into perspective and helps them understand the fit. Hard core sales pitches are not going to cut it, and telling stories allows your brand become relevant, and real, to you customers.

3. Be authentic and transparent

If you’re going to listen and tell stories they need to be believable. This can only be achieved if you are authentic as your customer is going to see right through any false of fake attempts to win them over.

Be who you say you are – that’s what wins you integrity. If you screw up – be upfront with your customers about it. Don’t try hiding it because 10/10 times it will come out and be splashed all over the internet. No one will think you’re authentic then.

People respect brands that are genuine and show humility. Being transparent will win over a lot more fans and create a positive, attractive energy.

Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Be careful how you respond

You can’t control how people are going to react to your brand — what they are going to say or what they are going to do. The important thing is to make sure that whatever happens you respond appropriately. That’s why going back to point 1 (listening) is so important.

The best brands are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Anything anyone says, does or posts online today has the potential to go viral, whether that be a good or a bad thing. The difference in terms of how this will affect your business will be dependent on how you respond to it.

5. There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’

The success of your brand is only as strong as the people you have behind it. Make your team feel valued – you can use internal networks, emails or messaging to praise those who are outperforming the rest.

Start incentive programs and use concepts like gamification within your organization to make people want to work harder. Provide ways to allow colleagues to share and collaborate with each other and break down the barriers between departments. The more you allow your people to talk to one another, and the more you listen, the more productive your business will become.

6. Be ready to adapt

The rate of change online is massive. Yes you need to have a set strategy in place, and yes you need have marketing, communication and various other plans, but you also need to ensure that when things change, so do you.

You need to allow enough wriggle room in your strategy, planning and teams so that when things change, or crop up as they do, you are able adapt and respond appropriately.

7. The element of surprise

People love surprises and as a brand you need to make sure that you hold back some of your best plays only to reveal them when no one is expecting them. People love brands that under promise and over deliver – just make sure that any surprise is done in a positive way.

8. Keep it simple
People are bombarded with hundreds of messages on a daily basis, so don’t over complicate things else you’re likely to just get lost in the noise.

Your customers will appreciate simplicity – in design, form, and function. Taking complex messages and ideas and breaking them down into small digestible pieces of information will allow people to understand and buy into your vision.

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