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Branding and Social Media

Branding and Social Media

Are Brands Pushing For Too Much Commitment?


Are Brands Pushing For Too Much Commitment?

As the big social media brands synergize and extend their offerings to make it more and more convenient to inhabit their brand of ego-system (hat-tip Brian Solis), when will it all become too much?

Is there a danger that it will all become too invasive? And even if it does come to feel that way, once things are that integrated, where’s the exit row?

Can you just buy a branded product anymore in that space without being drawn into a bigger commitment?

When does commitment become claustrophobic? When does convenience become imposition? When are customers being asked to buy into more than they want, even if what, or some of what, they are buying into is being offered to them free?

Take Google+ for example. It’s not about whether or not it’s better than Facebook, it’s about the fact that it seems to be so similar to Facebook, and to get the most out of it, there’s an increasing sense that I will need to decide to go with one or the other. To capitalize, I’m going to lock up even more with the Googlesphere or Apple or Facebook or Microsoft and therefore comply at some level with their rules and their worldview.

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Branding and Social Media

Brands And Social Media: The Imaginary Revolution


Social Media Facebook

In 2007, a young Mark Zuckerberg nervously addressed a room filled with analysts to predict the future. “The next 100 years are going to be different for advertisers starting today,” he announced. “For the last 100 years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation.”

That day, his presentation announced that brands were becoming an official part of the Facebook universe. Users would start to ‘like’ brands on the social network and communicate with and around them; Zuckerberg called this “social ads”. “Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend,” he said. “A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising.”

His speech ushered in a new era of social media. Agencies sprung up promising client services predicated on Zuckerberg’s vision of a more social, interactive approach to marketing communication. Rather than the traditional one-way model of mass communication, the agencies offered to ‘engage’ with consumers and start ‘conversations’ with them on behalf of clients.

But there were two problems with Zuckerberg’s vision. First, it assumed brands were as interesting as people. In reality, most people used social media as social media (stay with me) and eschewed contact with brands. Second, Facebook made more money offering brands the opportunity to buy audiences rather than developing naturalistic ones. Over time Facebook began to limit the amount of organic reach brands could achieve with their Facebook fans in order to monetize the contact process and drive their advertising model. These two factors ensured that even if social media did have the potential to allow a dialogue between brands and consumers, it was a conversation that only a tiny fraction could hear and an even more tiny proportion would respond to.

“Any marketers who believe they’re having a conversation on Facebook are delusional,” said Forrester Research vice-president Nate Elliott last year. “Facebook’s shift from free organic reach to paid reach…means that Facebook has abandoned the social marketing it always promised brands, to the type of advertising model that brands can already buy on Yahoo, NBC, and elsewhere,” he opined.

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Branding and Social Media

4 Keys To Building Brand Social Value


Social Brand Strategy

We sometimes forget that with social media, it is not about the destination, it is about the journey; a journey that is defined by the goals a brand hopes to realize when it engages a network of individuals. Viewing “social” as an “emerging communications” medium is like calling water wet. Let’s lay it out here: We are social.

We are seven billion individuals dynamically interacting within scalable groups exhibiting similar behaviors and patterns. Out of these interactions, new behaviors emerge which cannot be inferred from individual components alone.

Our worth in groups is far greater than the sum of us as individuals.

So then, what motivates individuals to join networks? Consider these four primary relational motivations:

  1. Competition (especially games, high-feedback environments)
  2. Excellence (think badge value and bragging rights.)
  3. Curiosity (think creativity – stories, photo albums, etc.)
  4. Affection (think human beings who need social relationships, all of us!)

Arranging the four into a diamond – take a look at what is revealed for Facebook, then Facebook with games (as presented by Davide ‘Folletto’ Casali in a talk on Social Experience Design).

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Branding and Social Media

Brands Must Know The Scales And Values Of Talk


Social Media Brand Strategy

“Everybody’s talking at me. I don’t hear a word they’re saying,” observed Harry Nilsson in 1969. 45 years on, it seems a lot of people are still not listening – but brands should be. New findings from Gallup suggests marketers may be pinning the wrong hopes on social media.

While brand owners and managers continue to view Facebook and Twitter as opportunities to increase visibility and interaction, consumers are much less swayed. In fact, “Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be,” concludes the report, with just 5% of consumers surveyed saying that social media exerts a great deal of influence on them, and a clear majority (62%) saying it has no influence on how or what they buy at all.

Even allowing for the fact that some consumers may refuse to acknowledge, or to realize, that they are ‘swayed’ by media, there’s a clear message here that brands and consumers are operating at cross purposes. While Gallup finds that more than 90% of consumers are connected to a social media channel to connect with family and friends, that connection does not extend to companies and/or their products. And while companies may view social channels as large fishing grounds within which to hook new customers, consumers are neither motivated to switch or to recommend a new brand on the basis of social media presence alone.

I was intrigued by this observation. “Social media entail just a fragment of a consumer’s experience with a company. Customers are much more likely to be active listeners and participants in a brand’s social media community when they have already made an emotional connection with that brand through other experiences.” That finding flies in the face of much of what we hear so often – that social media attracts and draws people into the sales funnel. This suggests that social media functions much more as a channel for those who are already converted, often by interactions elsewhere. It would seem we need to be thinking about a much more nuanced approach to social media where, perhaps, brands take up conversations socially that consumers have already begun amongst themselves offline.

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Branding and Social Media

10 Keys To Building Close Customer Relationships


Brand Loyalty Strategy

Most brands would say they want to be popular and many of them would see social media as a way to achieve that. But recently David McInnis wrote this in a comment: “You can have all the social pieces in place but doing so does not make you likeable. Most companies that have a social strategy should not. They should focus instead on being likeable first.”

In other words, social media alone won’t improve your affinity as a brand. A great observation. Tempting isn’t it to roll out the social artillery without first thinking about whether a) anyone gets on with you b) wants to socialize with you and c) will bother to give you the time of day even if you do make the effort.

In his book The Likeability Factor, Tim Sanders talks about the need for people to build their own likeability by focusing on four critical elements:

• Friendliness: communicate liking and openness to others
• Relevance: connect with others’ interests, wants, and needs
• Empathy: recognize, acknowledge, and experience other people’s feelings
• Realness: guarantees its authenticity

So, what does it take for a brand to be likeable? I figured this functioned as a good starting list for those keen to build closer relationships with their customers:

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