10 Social Media Brand Insights

Brands and Social Media: Real Life Lessons

No branding!Social media teaches marketers that it takes a community to build a brand. While historically developing your brand has been at the heart of most marketing plans, now as a marketer you must partner with your customers to build your brand.

At Internet Week New York’s NewFront 2011, several major brand marketers including American Express, GE and SAP discussed how they’re integrating social media into their marketing and what they’ve learned. Here are ten lessons that can be applied to your brand.

  1. Recognize that consumers own your brand. While this may seem obvious, especially if you’ve read Trout and Ries’ marketing classic Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind, social media shows marketers real-time proof by monitoring what’s said across the social media landscape.
  2. Understand customer consumption patterns, especially content. The Internet and specifically social media have enhanced marketers’ ability to track and analyze customer behavior related to content and purchase; yielding greater insights. Social media broadens communications for marketers beyond one-to-many, broadcast marketing to interacting directly with prospects and customers and participating in one-to-one and many-to-many communications.
  3. Overcome your internal biases. As marketers we have preconceived approaches to the marketplace. Social media provides broader, faster feedback from customers and the public and requires a review of our assumptions. To this end, it’s critical to both listen to the conversation and respond to it.
  4. Must be authentic. The public can smell a fake or insincere sentiment in a heartbeat. For brands, this means that you need to decide what’s acceptable to communicate and what behaviors to follow. On a related note, determine how transparent company representatives should be about your firm and spell it out for employees. This translates to social media guidelines.
  5. Create stories that entertain. Ashton Kutcher made the point that he hated advertising but loved stories. Stories are powerful because we’ve been trained to listen to them since we were children. They pull your audience in.  Ask your customers to share their stories. All of the marketers found customer stories powerful tools to support their marketing.
  6. Put content and experiences where consumers are. You can have the best marketing in the world but if no one sees it, it’s useless. Your goal is to make your content and communications findable. Leverage search optimization and engage with consumers and the public to share your content. Test new approaches and environments.
  7. Target your message. Due to the growth of social media platforms, what may have been micro-niches now contain a sufficient number of prospects making them viable to target and market. Consider where your message is most relevant and applicable. Are you limiting your audience with your market definition?
  8. Build your base before you need it. Unlike other media formats, most social media requires time and resources to build a tribe that appreciates your brand and offering. It’s an important element to have in place in the event that you experience a social media crisis. Even a well-loved brand or a social media proactive brand can have detractors who command public attention.
  9. Trust your key messengers. In the social media ecosphere, you must be prepared to respond quickly. Therefore you need to train your employees and trust that they’ll act appropriately when the need arises. The reality is that events can and will happen that are outside anticipated events.
  10. Don’t assume that a social media base guarantees direct sales. With roughly 1.6 million Twitter followers, QuestLove of the band The Roots made the point that followers don’t translate directly to sales. Also, bear in mind that both pre-sales and post-purchase social media interaction are important to your brand.

When you assess your social media marketing plans for your brand(s), determine which of these insights apply and create strategies and related tactics to support your brand. Bear in mind that every brand’s path may vary. Therefore, these tips may need to be adapted to your product’s unique attributes and challenges.

Do you have any other suggestions to add to this list? If so, please do so in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: NatalieMaynor via Flickr

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