by Chris Valentino, Partner/ECD
Branding has transcended expectations in the past year as savvy businesses begin to properly leverage social media applications such as facebook, twitter, foursquare, groupon, shopkick and others. In each case brands and businesses have the opportunity to engage captive consumers through web applications and mobile technology. While these platforms offer businesses a marketing soapbox, diverse cost options and a broad consumer base – success still lies in the execution. A business needs to understand the business of social media and recognize the true benefits of it. This is not to say business websites are dead, but it is to say they have fierce competition from social media outlets and their ability to engage consumers in a seemingly neutral playground. Clever marketing and strategic thinking are needed to enhance your brand awareness within the social media space. It is in this arena where brands surrender a portion of their marketing control to the consumer.
So, how do you make it work for you?
Learn as much as you can about it.
That means monitoring how consumers interact with social media, monitoring when they react to it and anticipating what they can benefit from it. Take a hard look at your brand and your budget and ask yourself what do you want in return for your social media campaign? Viewership, sales, goodwill, public relations? Whatever it may be, social media can be your best friend in the digital arena and it often doesn’t take much money to make it work for you. (It does, as we all know, take more than a tweeting intern.) Take facebook for example. Establishing a page is simple. So, be careful when you take the first step. We have a number of tools to make it effortless, but you need to know how you plan to utilize and manage your page. You can start by asking simple questions. Do you want to control interaction and direct consumers to specific messages? Do you want to host your own video player or photo feeds? Do you want customized skins so your brand will stand out? Will you integrate external sources? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then a typical fan page is not for you. You need a smart business page that offers you customization and control and you need to commit to managing it. You may need custom applications for your content, sweepstakes, special offers, twitter feeds or photo galleries. You may want visitors to LIKE your page before they can dive in; which we recommend to everyone. A page needs to grab the viewer from the page load; let them hit that LIKE button and grab that data. That strategy is a winning one for brands. As you drive your “LIKEs” up you capture essential user data and can more easily analyze what works on your page. Facebook offers great analytical tools not unlike those for your traditional website, so don’t devalue them. Also consider connecting facebook to your website to promote cross traffic. Once you have all of this figured out ask the big question – “What is your motive for success?” or specifically, “what is your message?”
You’ve created your facebook brand experience, so now what?
It is one thing to point consumers to your facebook page, it’s another thing to keep them there. You will need a consistent message that will engage them and offer them content on a frequent basis. Successful social media connects with consumers on a few basic levels. They make it easy for them to come and go (when you love someone, set them free…). They offer them something for nothing (content, a coupon, a life altering idea, a reason to say “Hey guys, check this page out!”). They deliver the “goods” on an ongoing basis (it’s not one coupon – once a year or even once a month).
Furthermore, and I stress this, your brand needs to communicate directly with your audience to address their concerns, to share news, and provide a destination portal where consumers feel connected. As each brand is unique so is the approach.
As consumers ourselves, we have the insatiable need for information, products, ideas and inspiration. The digital audience is expanding at a heart pounding pace, with the college ( I couldn’t for the life of me type “younger”) generation turning away from televisions to computers and smart devices. Mobile technology is in reach of just about anyone as evident by the increase in smartphone and tablet sales. Your entire audience may not live in NY or LA, so they may not have the latest gadgets or 5G speed, but regardless a social media presence can be connected anywhere. If you know your brand and your consumer there are innovative tools to make a difference.
Navigating the social media market means sailing the three Cs of marketing with eyes wide open. I define the 3Cs of marketing as Clear, Concise and Clever marketing. This is the Gl-ocal way of thinking – where the world is your neighborhood and the internet the new tower of Babel reaching across borders, languages and race.