Thick Skin, Kind Heart: Lead brand communications while maintaining your sanityFeatured
Leading brand communications is exciting, fun, and, sometimes, daunting. It’s filled with the thrilling responsibilities of telling your brand’s story in consistent, authentic ways. It’s what you say, and what you don’t say. It’s investing in the dialogues within your community and coming around full circle to establish trust and cement brand affinity. After 10+ years of community building, marketing development, and a whole lot of communication creation, I’m proud to say that building brand communications doesn’t get easier, I’ve just gotten better at it. Online communities have their own peaks and valleys – big numbers, big personalities, and often, big bravado. Thanks to the wonderful world wide web, your brand’s community rarely gives pause in sharing its thoughts, for good or for bad. With this in mind, I’ve picked up a few handy tips to ensure your brand communications strategy lines up with the ever-changing world of online communities. 1. Create a process: First you need a delineation of responsibility. Who handles which type of communication? Maybe it’s one person, maybe it’s a mixed team of support and communications, maybe it’s one trusted intern. Whomever it is, develop a reply framework to ensure on-brand dialogue and an escalation policy for any toasty conversations through channels like email, social media, or online chat. 2. Listen and share: Since you’ve created a solid framework, it’s now easy to connect with your community and share their feedback with other members of your team. It’s not enough to just “like” and “heart” posts all day long. Oftentimes, listening and acknowledging your community’s feedback is enough. People want to be heard and your communications team can be that listener. Listen, gather feedback, and make the time to share it with the right internal audiences. 3. Say what you do, do what you say: Only make promises you’re sure you can keep. If you’re going to make a change to a system or a feature, say as much, and circle back when you do. Don’t leave loose ends hanging. 4. Care, but don’t take it personally: The internet provides a veil of anonymity and thus the most vocal critics often have a highest degree of affinity for your brand...they just may forget that there is an actual human being who is responsible for the communications side! Give yourself permission to read criticism, decide if it’s worthy of action, and then let. It. go. It’s perfectly fine to feel a sting – it means you care about your work and you care about the integrity of your brand. What’s not fine is to dwell and internalize that criticism. 5. Embrace mistakes: Mistakes are only problematic if a) someone gets hurt or b) you learn nothing from them. Take calculated risks, make mistakes, and share the learnings. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not growing as a company or as a person – revel in your humility.6. Honesty, always: Honesty wins, every single time. This pairs beautifully with embracing mistakes. Admit when you swing and miss, and be clear about how you’re going to make things right and move forward. Your community will appreciate your well-thought out candor and this dialogue will continue to humanize your brand, establishing your brand and its communications as authentic, real, and accessible. Community is the heart of the best brands in the world – they deserve your listening ear and attention. Take care of them and take care of yourself. Thick skin, kind heart – it’s my mantra and it can be yours, too. - Nicole Warshauer is an experienced marketer and communications designer, with an expertise in community building and engagement. She has more than 10 years of experience in marketing, community, and leadership at various nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including 7 years at Yelp.Before joining Dribbble in 2019, Nicole spent years growing and fostering communities, both online and offline. Her strengths lie within internal and external content strategies, integrated marketing, and team building. Above all, she believes in the power of developing a brand's story and relishes the many ways a community can evangelize that story.She holds a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. When she's not crafting communications or putting together cohesive marketing strategies, Nicole's likely hanging out with her awesome husband and two equally-as-awesome daughters.