Episode #008: Brand and Content Quality; Social Listening vs Monitoring; VetBro Beverage Wars

Duration: 15 min, 28 sec.


 • “Why Your Brand Credibility Depends On A High-Quality Content Strategy” by John Hall

 • “Social Media Listening and Monitoring: What Is It and How To Do It

 • “Behind Black Rifle coffee, the ‘anti-hipster’ answer to Starbucks’ ‘latte liberals’ says sales are surging”


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Links from this episode:

 • Why Your Brand Credibility Depends On A High-Quality Content Strategy (forbes.com)

 • Social Media Listening and Monitoring: What Is It And How To Do It : 46ALPHA

 • Black Rifle Coffee Company Is a Pro-Trump Brand Taking on Starbucks (businessinsider.com)

Rough Transcript:

Thank you for listening.

The theme for today is humanizing your brand and knowing your target audience.

I’ve got an article from John Hall on why your brand credibility depends on the quality of your content.

Social Media Listening vs Social Media Monitoring: What’s the difference and how do you do it.

And the VetBro beverage wars heat up.

Veteran-owned coffee companies are trying to be the Starbucks of the political right.

The date is Sunday, July 18, 2021.

The time is a little after 9  p.m., and you’re listening to Episode #8 of Communicate For Effect.

Segment 1

I spent a little time updating my site this week.

It’s a work-in-progress, much like this podcast, but I had an “A-Ha” moment earlier this week and am looking to refine my own target audience for both my website, supporting sites and this podcast.

I’ll get into this a little more at the end after I talk about the VetBro beverage wars.

So John Hall had an article on Forbes titled, “Why Your Brand Credibility Depends On A High-Quality Content Strategy.”

He says, quote “Whether your company is trying to build a following, spotlight its offerings or increase profits, everything you create should be done in the name of brand credibility.”

When you do this, he says, it gives you four positive results.

First, it builds brand recognition.

To do this you need to optimize your content via SEO techniques, use landing pages, keywords, basic inbound marketing techniques.

If you look at my site structure on 46alpha.com – and I spent a while trying to figure out how to structure it – I have the “Operations” section as being Inbound Website, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Advertisements, SEO, and Digital PR.

These are the essential digital comms items for building your content and brand recognition.

The second thing he says in his article is that it fosters brand trust.

Quote, “As people engage with your content, they get to know your brand better. Blog posts, videos, informational pages, or unique details about your products and services are all examples of content that can help tell your brand’s story.” End quote.

I will add that it CAN foster brand trust, or it can hinder brand trust depending on how you approach it.

I’ll get into this more in the third segment.

Third, it increases your audience.

The more people talk about your brand, share your brand, reference it, the more well known you become, the more engagement, the bigger the following.

And fourth, it humanizes your business.

For this section, he is really talking about Corporate Social Responsibility and uses the Patagonia clothing company and its environmental efforts as an example of humanizing a business.

I will say that in addition to CSR-type programs, you can choose to humanize your brand on your social media accounts, your emails, and how you engage and interact with potential customers or clients.

Are you being robotic and scripted all the time, or can you tell that there is a human being behind the tweets, the emails, the various communication exchanges, that represent the company?

Anyway, I’ll put a link to his article in the notes.

Segment 2

On July 15th I wrote an article titled, “Social Media Listening and Monitoring: What Is It and How Do You Do It.”

Social listening and monitoring are crucial to your business’s reputation, even if you don’t have a strong presence on social media.

If you aren’t telling your story, someone else will, and you may not like the story they are telling.

There may also be lots of online conversations going on about your company, some true and some may be some not-so-true, and if you don’t know about them or ignore them, it can hurt your companies reputation.

Ignorance may be bliss, but it can hurt your bottom line.

So, Social Listening is when you are a passive participant.

You’re just listening to the various online conversations, gathering information, data, intelligence.

You are gaining insight into what people are saying about your company, about your competitors, and about your industry.

Social Monitoring is when you are an active participant in the conversation.

This is when you decide to engage.

You are actively seeking out mentions and conversations and looking to be a part of the conversation.

You can provide “thank-you” types of comments, “thanks for your input, we’ll try and do better,” correct the record, any number of activities to get your companies brand into the different conversations.

In the previous segment when the author was talking about “humanizing your company,” this is really where I think you have the potential to humanize your company.

How do you do social listening and monitoring?

Use your tools like Hootsuite, BrandWatch, Mention, Sprout Social, and set up criteria for those tools to monitor the various social spaces.

Hashtags, names, common misspellings and variations of a name, influencers, and do this for your brand, your competition, and your industry.

Most of these tools set up a column on-screen for each phrase you enter, so that any mention of those phrases will trickle down the column and you just need to monitor them.

I think they also have email alerts available like your Google Alerts.

If you are new to this area, have a chat with your team – however big the team is – about how you want to go about doing this.

Decide what you want to listen for, and for monitoring, decide when you want to engage.

What are the typical scenarios that you’ll want to respond to, how often, what is your tone, how “human” do you want your company to come across online?

When discussing tone, I’ll say that being controversial and snarky from a company account can drive social engagement, but it can also limit your potential customers which is an excellent segway into today’s segment #3.

Segment 3

So this week, I saw lots of articles and comments on what I’m calling the “VetBro Beverage Wars.”

I think it started with a New York Times article titled, “Can the Black Rifle Coffee Company Become the Starbucks of the Right?”

The article says the company doubled its sales last year by leaning into America’s culture war, and it’s also trying to distance itself from some of its new customers.

It’s the New York Times, and behind a paywall, so I can’t read the entire article, but there are a number of related articles on other sites on the same topic.

The link I’ll provide in the notes is from the Business Insider article.

Black Rifle Coffee Company was started by military Veteran Evan Hafer in 2014.

He started it as a “pro-military, pro-law enforcement, and anti-hipster company.”

It employs 530 people, many of whom, it says, are reservists, military veterans, and military spouses.

I was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio when they opened what I think was their first physical store, and they now have stores in Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Utah.

Its coffee product lines include Freedom Fuel Coffee, Liberty Roast, and the AK-47 Espresso.

If you look at their marketing, it is heavy on the military, guns, and the American flag.

It’s not only selling coffee, it’s selling the VetBro lifestyle.

And it seems to be working for them.

They’re not the only veteran-owned company that does this, I see a bunch of these companies on MilTwitter.

You got Military Java Group, Java Jarhead, Ranger Coffee, Invader Coffee, 11B/Bravo coffee (an infantryman).

Task and Purpose just did an article and review on Armed Forces Brewing Company that is owned by a veteran selling beer.

They’re all using the same visual style, same marketing techniques, targeting the same type of people.

In the first article when the author talks about humanizing your brand, these companies have humanized their brand.

You know what side of the political spectrum the company is on, it has the typical imagery of guns, ammo, meat, trucks, flags, they’re using all capital letters, black and white logos, etc etc etc.

That is a method, and for some of these companies, it is a winning method.

They have their target audience down, they know who they are marketing to, but they also know who they are alienating.

They know, or at least they should know, that there is a big chunk of the population that is not going to be buying from them.

And they’re ok with that.

There are a lot of other companies, not just the Veteran beverage companies, that are supporting social and political issues with their brands.

For example, those companies that support some of the traditional left-leaning political issues know that they are also probably alienating a different segment of the population.

There is a group of people in the U.S. that will not buy your product if your company openly supports environmental issues, gay rights, or gun control.

So it’s interesting to watch from purely a marketing perspective, how these companies on both sides of the spectrum double down on their target audience, they sell the lifestyle, and then they sell their products.

This brings me to something I mentioned at the beginning – I was making some changes to my site this week.

When I re-published my blog site, I kinda, sorta knew the direction I wanted to go but didn’t have everything figured out.

Some aspects I wanted to nail down – my site structure – and other aspects I was OK with just getting started and letting it come to me, like this podcast.

I decided this week to focus my site entirely on the Vetrepreners out there and providing them information on how to digitally marketing their businesses.

Vetrepreneurs are the military Veterans, and spouses, that have left the service and have decided to become entrepreneurs.

When I was still active, I seemed to get a lot of questions from those who were not in my career field about how to do all things public relations and marketing because they were considering starting a business when they got out of the service.

How to start a website, social media, YouTube, etc.

My perspectives on the communications field are a mix of my lengthy military service and downrange experiences, and what I learn from the private sector, so I’m just going to embrace the fact that I’m a mix of both.

Same content, same information, but speaking more to the Veterans out there that are looking to start a business or already have started a business and need some help on the comms side of running a business.

Just a final note on branding.

Not every Veteran-owned business wants or needs to embrace this VetBro culture.

I know vets that love that culture and vets that absolutely hate it.

Depending on your business, your product, and your location, that may be the right move or it may be the wrong move for the success of your business.

These are some of the things I’ll dive into, in addition to providing information in a familiar framework as I do on my site – Intel, Plans, and Ops.

I plan, prepare, execute, and assess the digital comms strategy.

I do lessons learned and repeat the process, integrating those lessons learned, so I/we can get better.

I’ll be working on some more tweaks to my site, and social sites, which you may see over the coming weeks.

So, more to follow.

Wrap Up

And that’s a wrap for number eight. 

If you have any questions or comments for me, just go to 46alpha.com and shoot me a note.

On the site, you can subscribe to the Last 24 daily news summaries and also follow my FlipBoard magazine if you want to find more articles on digital comms, marketing, and technology.

I’m Mike Nicholson, and I will see you next week.


Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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