With a growing focus on social media, digital channels and mobile devices putting the power in the hands of billions of global consumers, brands are empowered to tap into social media to foster engagement with the social consumers for brand experience. Understandably, with this growth comes a growing pressure to deliver results that consumers have come to expect from brands. To survive and thrive in a highly competitive social space, brands are now using the social consumers and brand experience to stay abreast of customer needs, market trends and breaking news requiring attention and action. If you have not fully adopted and integrated social media into your overall marketing or are not yet convinced such adoption and integration will be a good return on your investment, take note and begin the journey to unlimited potentials. Even if you’re an early adopter or just starting out, take note and evolve your social media strategy. This article is for you. It will show you the power of the consumers and the fast, far-reaching, transparent and viral nature of social media. There are opportunities for your brand to reach a large number of consumers quickly. Although this article won’t help you quantify the business impact of your social media efforts, it does, however, show you that the social consumer voice speaks volume. Over time, you would be able to see trends and determine your own ROI.
Here are four major opportunities unleashed by the digital trend for brands to engage with the consumers in real-time. You should make these as essentials to your brand-building marketing and mobile strategy; after all, social media in the growing digital world has fundamentally changed how consumers engage with brands and how they share this experience with others. These opportunities promote brand awareness, consideration, preference, and purchase.
1) Brand Discovery and Awareness. When you think of brand discovery in the context of digital media, what are the two main sources that come to mind? Social media and mobile apps empower the social consumers to use search engine and word of mouth for brand discovery. It’s all about “Google” this. Social consumers are researching products online, performing price comparison, and checking out product reviews to help them make real-time purchasing decisions. As a result, it’s critical to ensure that your mobile site and website are designed and developed for search engine optimization.
2) Brand Participation. Social consumers like to interact with brands that provide them with opportunities to interact. Run multiple engagement apps to give your consumers different ways to engage with your brand and a variety of activities when they get to your social pages. Doing so will encourage them to spend more time on the page as well as return to it for future offers, content, or promotion. Take a look at any brand’s Facebook page that consistently activating brand advocates, fans, followers, campaign participants, etc. with its multiple apps. Notice how they’re using the first 12 visible tabs to create various, fun interaction points for their fans. Don’t limit brand participation to one social network. Court your fans and followers in all the places that they spend their time – Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, etc. Consider these channels and social media tools for brand participation:
- Video – Vimeo, YouTube, Livestream, Ustream, Google, etc. Create content by using these tools to record and upload videos, including live streaming.
- Photos – Instagram, Flickr, Picassa, etc. Upload and tag your brand content and images.
- Blogs – WordPress, Tumblr, Microsoft blogs, etc. Write and publish your branded blog content
- Micro-Blogs – Twitter, Friendfeed. Capture your social consumers’ attention by sharing your latest and greatest news, announcements, and branded promotion within these micro-blogging platforms.
- Social Networks – Facebook, Google+, Orkut, Quora. These channels offer a platform for your brand to engage in a two-way dialogue with your fans and followers about your products, services, events, and company news. Your fans use Twitter handles such as Follow @brand and RT or “Like” brand products on Facebook. So, make sure you have a presence within these platforms.
3) Brand Sharing and Impressions. Social consumers are opinionated, habitual, vocal informants who like to share their experience, followings, and post reviews. Their sharing can result in someone new from their network of family, friends, fans, followers, etc. engaging with your brand. Your campaign should be built with this sharing concept in mind. Brand sharing generates or earns you media impressions when additional consumers learn the information via their news feed. Build your campaign by engaging sharers and advocates through clicks, sweepstakes, contests, trivia, quizzes, and other interactions. Imagine what your media impressions will be for each sharer that brings in 15 additional people, for example. Give your consumers the means to share the campaign with their network. Sharers who participated in your campaign can then spread the word about their participation by electing to share it.
- 4) Brand Advocacy/Championing. Why should your brand care about what consumers say? In general, since advocates are loyal to their brands of preference, they are trusted among their peers and within their areas of expertise or experience. Consider them as your brand’s influential champions. Through creating content and sharing of their experience, social consumers, as your brand advocacy, act on behalf of your brand. How? They aid and influence their peers into making purchasing decisions by making recommendations that are also substantial enough to get family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and even, their network to take action. What can you do to reinforce positive behavior? Your brand would need to create and build relationships through social media channels and digital means in order to drive advocates to speak highly of your brand. Listen to your advocates when they talk about your brand. As an aggregate, their reach can positively influence your brand’s value and worth. Brand advocates do have the power to get others to join their social campaign. Consider them as your word-of-mouth endorsement (some of which convert new interactions) that help you achieve a high level of extended brand awareness. Don’t underestimate the clout that advocates have within their network to influence friends to convert into participants.
Let your consumers help you build brand awareness, engagement, and loyalty through social media. Let the power of the consumer voice do the marketing for your brand. There’s an immense extension of reach and engagement with communities within social media outlets. Supercharge your brand’s media presence by incorporating the above four impressions into your social media profile. Use every available opportunity and technology to stimulate interactions with your social consumers, encouraging them to take action.