Featured Story: 10 Reasons Why Brands Need To Be Social
We’re in an age where a lot has changed thanks to social media. Facebook is your new YellowPages, Instagram is your new photo album, Pinterest is your new scrapbook and Tinder is your new dating hotline. While social media has changed the game for consumers, it’s brought about some radical new implications for brands and marketers too. The advent of social media introduces a powerful new marketing channel. This channel differs significantly to traditional marketing channels, largely due to its social nuance and the fact that consumers are actively immersed in the channel, truly having the power to be heard. Social networks are the place to hang out and it’s important that brands get comfortable with playing on the consumer’s home turf.
With a good understanding of their audience and some best practice social media tactics, brands are capable of putting together solid social media strategies that may see their business flourish both online and offline.
I’ve decided to look at 10 key reasons why brands need to be social, picking out some great examples along the way.
1. The Power Channel: A Tool To Disseminate Content
With the abundance of tools available, brands are able to create great content. But what’s the point if there’s no outlet and no audience? With social media, a brand can go from being a scribe to becoming a renowned publisher. Social media channels lend themselves to the spread of content, combine this with a targeted audience and you’ll be sure to sky-rocket your content marketing strategy.
Speaking of rockets, a great example comes from spacecraft manufacturing and launching company, SpaceX. SpaceX uses their Facebook and Twitter accounts to share intriguing content about their spacecraft and their various expeditions.
2. The Channel That Never Sleeps: Real Time Marketing
Unlike traditional marketing channels, social media is always active. There’ll always be someone, somewhere in the world who is online and scrolling through their news feed. This idea sure keeps brands and marketers on their toes, but at the same time, it allows for a content schedule that can be extensively planned to extend around the clock. Additionally, the real-time aspect of social media allows brands to pick up on current events or occurrences, think quick and provide audiences with great content that seamlessly happens in the moment.
Below are a couple of examples of brands who thought on their feet and used a little bit of a “news-jacking” technique to take advantage in the moment.
German automobile maker, Mercedes-Benz, was quick to back Germany’s 4th World Cup Final win.
American retailer, JC Penney, saw the red carpet at the Academy Awards as an opportunity to advertise their Dyson vacuum cleaner.
Oreo decided to welcome the royal birth of Prince George with some milk and cookies.
3. The Social Helpline: A Customer Support Channel
When there’s a problem with a product or service, there’s nothing worse than having to find the contact number of the brand and wait on hold for the next available consultant to resolve your issue. With social media, users can now reach for their keyboard or mobile phone to send a quick message to a brand explaining their issue. This is a great opportunity for brands to act quick, make further contact or follow the necessary steps to resolve a customer’s issue. What’s more, is that this conversation is often in the public domain, allowing brands to prove to their audience that they can speedily resolve an issue without any unnecessary fuss.
A South African company that leads by example in this regard, is DSTV. If you have an issue with your DSTV or just a question you’d like to ask, all you need to do is send @DStvCare a tweet on Twitter and they’ll reply in mere moments to be of assistance.
4. The Global Reach: Extending Your Social Graph
It’s easier to capture a worldwide audience online than it is to try and place a billboard in every city around the world. With social media, brands have the ability to spread far and wide to every corner of the globe. Once you reach the desired audience, there’s a good chance they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on. The result? A fast growing social graph comprised of a diverse audience, all thanks to social media.
The chocolate brand, KitKat is available in over 75 countries worldwide. They’ve built an international customer-base and have a social media presence to follow suit. KitKat is a good example of a brand that utilizes Facebook’s Global Pages function, to have a centralized page that pushes tailored messages and content based on the location of their audience.
5. The Talk of The Town: eWOM Moves Fast
Linked to the above idea of extending your social graph, is the idea of electronic word of mouth (eWOM). Social media offers a wide variety of ways for consumers to instantly communicate with one another. If a brand catches the attention of a consumer (for better or for worse), there’s no doubt that the story will be heard by dozens more on social networks, forums and online chat.
Online retailer, Amazon.com, is a case in point for growth due to positive electronic word of mouth. From starting off in 2005 selling mostly books, CD’s and computer hardware / software, the company now has hundreds of product categories and has grown their customer-base considerably. As Amazon.com is an online store, much of their growth was attributed to the word of mouth of satisfied customers online.
6. The Learning Platform: Taking Lessons From Your Audience
Once a brand has built itself a following, it can start to analyze it’s audience and optimize content based on available information and metrics. Facebook offers a number of insights about pages to the owners of the page. Additionally, there are loads of great third-party services such as Sprout Social, Stackla and Socialbakers that give statistics and insights into a brands audience and related activity.
Below, you can see a short summary of the key statistics for Coca-Cola – a brand with a diverse global audience who has optimized content to suit the various consumer segments and countries that they serve.
7: The Audience Empowerer: Building a 2-Way Conversation
Traditional media channels are characterized by one-way conversations involving a brand pushing messages towards consumers. Social media changes the game by allowing consumers to speak up. Brands now have the opportunity to truly engage and interact with consumers on an individual basis, going as far as allowing consumers to start or lead the conversation.
A brand that allows their audience to speak up and have their say, is Kulula airline. Kulula’s Facebook and Twitter accounts (although littered with many complaints!) serve as a platform for consumers to engage with the brand and have an individualized 2-way conversation.
8: The Brand Community Builder: From Audience to Advocacy
Indeed, a powerful tool of social media is the ability to create a brand community. Whether it’s by finding and penetrating an existing social community based on the product or service your brand offers, or by organically growing a brand community of your own – brands can leverage this community to result in a digital neighbourhood of engaged brand evangelists. Brand communities are built on common interest, shared power and universal involvement and are created to serve a brand’s audience beyond the core product or service offering.
A case in point is our very own South African Yuppiechef brand. The online kitchen product retailer has successfully built a brand community of kitchen and cooking fanatics ranging from first time cooks to established chefs. The key to their success includes recipes, cooking classes, online magazine “Spatula,” wedding registries and gift cards. All of these augmented products are available to their cuisine-crazy audience who willingly interacts with the brand and other audience members in a likeminded and comfortable online community.
9: The Social Ad: Advertising Hasn’t Disappeared, It’s Evolved
Social media invites marketers into a new world of advertising. Other than the tools and outlets available for content marketing, targeted ad campaigns can be created with the help of social networks like Twitter or Facebook. Marketers can specify exact information with regard to the age, interests, demographics and activity of online users to ensure that they target the correct consumers with a social advert.
10: The Measurable Solution: Keeping Track of ROI
Measuring return on investment is of great importance to marketers and finance departments alike. With social media, measuring ROI is made easy. Social networks and third-party services make it possible for brands to keep track of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) about their campaigns and audiences.
Below is a screenshot of some of the KPIs from a Starbucks Facebook ad campaign.
Meet Tim - a digital dreamer. Current 4th year Business Science Marketing Honours Student at UCT, e-Marketing Tutor at UCT, Digital Marketing Student at Red & Yellow and former intern at Made Digital Agency. Keep an eye on his blog for some great content on digital marketing and tech. thedigitaldaydream.co.zaView more posts from this author