Watching the ups and downs of Facebook stock over the last year, got me to thinking, “Maybe this social media thing’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” Add in Apple’s recent tumble from numero uno company in the land, and I really started to wonder if we’ve experienced some sort of social media/technology bubble and are in for a period of deflation.

Nah. Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. The space may get diluted, over-hyped  maybe even a bit tedious at times—but for pure reach and frequency it’s the place to be if you want to be seen and heard, and it’s the place to be to put your ear to the ground for what friends and colleagues like/dislike, for what’s new, trendy, or cutting edge, and for the latest news on your favorite brands.

I place Apple’s recent malaise in the same category. Sure, some of the mystique departed with the dearly-departed Mr. Jobs, but Apple’s high-flying ways were bound to be clipped back a bit. The smartphone, tablet, and electro-gadget market space is getting mighty crowded these days, and Tim Cook doesn’t seem to have the gravitas of his predecessor, but I ask, if you could get your hands on some Apple stock at a decent discount, you wouldn’t say no, would you?

Following is a blog that’s close to two years old. It focuses on using social media to promote your brand and the personalities behind it (interestingly, Steve Jobs, who was then still with us, is mentioned in it). The topic seemed like great advice back then; it remains so today. Enjoy!

Putting People Behind Your Brand

(Originally posted on May 17, 2011)

Facebook gets the second most online traffic every day, just behind Google. Not too far behind them are other social media giants such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and scores more tailoring to specific audiences and niches.

If that doesn’t get your juices going—if it doesn’t get you thinking your company/brand better jump on the social media bandwagon—it should.

Friends, fans, and followers are tweeting, posting, and connecting about people, places, movies, products, services, things they like, things they don’t like, etc. etc. in ever-increasing numbers. From a marketing perspective, you can’t help but want to be part of the conversation . . . and you can’t afford NOT to be.

One way companies can stand out from the increasingly crowded social media jungle is by giving customers and prospects a flavor of the people behind their brands—from presidents and CEOs, to executives and other senior staff.

If this sounds like a case of trying too hard to connect people and products, think again. Where would Sir Richard Branson and his various Virgin offshoots be absent his efforts to connect personality and corporate branding? What about Steve Jobs and Apple?

Granted, much of their efforts took place prior to the social media explosion, but their success in wedding personal and corporate branding can’t be overstated.

I’m not suggesting every company exec or head honcho has to convey the swagger of Branson or the intellectual “cool” of Jobs, but there is value in letting customers and prospective customers know more about the people behind the products.

Why? Because customers and prospects are more likely to talk about and buy from companies that share their values—and what better way to demonstrate those values than to engage in social media programs built around your executives?

Your customers/prospects will get to see what the people behind your brand look like, hear what they are thinking, and learn what they are doing. In turn, they’ll share this information within their social networks, opening your brand up to their ever-expanding circles of friends, associates, and friends of friends.

TIP#1: In general, content should reflect your company tone and message. The personal stuff can come later—funny, poignant tidbits and insight about your executives, yet consistent with your brand.

TIP#2: Stay on message, but remain flexible enough to reference real-time, relevant events and company news.

TIP#3: Utilize a cross-strategy of pinging/commenting on industry and related blogs. It shows your team is in touch and connected, plus readers of these other blogs might start following you and sharing your messages within their social networks.

TIP #4: Be sure your company Web site is up-to-date and relevant so those who become interested in your brand can go there to learn more about you, buy your product or service, or read your blog.

TIP#5: Play nice with others. Social media sites are not the place to criticize competitors or put down their products. Make it all about you!