This article originally appeared in the B2B Marketing Magazine June 2011 issue

Custom Branding it’s about moving from the idea of mass marketing (this includes segmentation) and corporate wide communications to empowering the people in your business to deliver the company brand in a 1-2-1 environment.

Achieving custom branding must start from the top down, a slightly disappointing fact that very few CEO’s are actually active in social spaces, so the challenge is already a tough for those marketers out there trying to push social within the organisation.

Get Buy In
It’s paramount you get buy in from your head(s) of business even, if you cannot get them to blog on a regular basis, show them how quick and easy it is to send a tweet and the benefits of following peers. Send them on a training course, or deliver it yourself. Show them the success stories and identify a social funnel whereby you can track front-line activity from point of conversation to sale, or the increase brand recognition, or in the case of support a resolved issues.

Custom Branding is a front-line activity and while marketing should be delivering a strategic approach and campaign based activity it’s the workforce that should be core to delivering the engagement. Sales teams should be speaking to potential clients and the wider community, support teams should be engaging with customers, HR should be talking to potential candidates to create a resource pool, heads of business should be providing insightful snippets that capture the minds of the overall audience.

By creating this front-line activity, your business will create more one to one relationships where your people are communicating directly with your audience base, building the brands reputation through themselves. Below are some tips you nurture the change in your business to encourage the front-line to start engaging.

Find Your Stars
Find your content stars, these are they guys and girls in the organisation that regularly participate in the social world on a personal level, there’s a good chance these people will already engaging with the industry community at some level, now is your chance to tap into that audience.

Get A Playbook
Develop guidelines and tips to empower your content stars, my suggestion is not to be restrictive in your policy just ask your employees to add a disclaimer to protect themselves and your business. Guidelines and tips may include how to better serve their audience, how to use social tools such as tweetdeck, how to deliver engagement and provide further training.

Group Branding to Create Awareness
Brand their social spaces; while employees can be precious of their social spaces, ask them if you can brand these to provide even more recognition, this does not have to be as obvious as adding a logo to users profile images, it could be a photographic or illustrative style or even a prop of some kind within the image, background imagery can assist too. Another more subtle form of branding is the use of language or terminology by your employees, although this can be a little harder to acheive.

Create Content For The Front-Line
While your employees may have subjects to talk about with their friends and followers, why not provide them with something to talk about to their audience, this could be viral videos, how to guides, industry related tip and tricks, provide a repository of content they can dip in and out of and remember having an opinion on 3rd party content is just as good at creating a conversation.

Monitor Traffic and Engagement
The quickest method to get you started on this is to sign your users up to a single bit.ly account which you can monitor, this will give you an overview of impressions and influence your users are having and will help you measure traffic back to your site, blog post, social space or landing page.
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