The nonstop growth of social networking and blog sites is having an effect on brands and how those brands are marketed. According to an October study from a reputed research company and its social media affiliate, sixty percent of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites.
The volume of social media consumption and participation and to some extent the very nature of the media means that many brand name, products or stores are the topic of discussion on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other available blogs.
These brand conversations impact companies in at least three ways.
1) Product Ratings and Reviews
Product reviews and ratings have changed with the advent of social media. Not long ago, producing ratings and reviews were almost completely in the publishing realm. This makes us think of magazines like Consumer Reports or various online sites.
These publishers still do product reviews, but so do social media users. According to the Nielsen and NM Incite report, three out of five active social media users create product reviews or otherwise rate products. When asked to name the kinds of product or service information they liked best, the majority of the respondents said consumer ratings followed by those who chose consumer reviews. It is worth noting that in social media, product reviews do not have to be stored on a retailer’s website, though some reviews and ratings are sometimes visible on a company’s website.
Such is the reach of social media that users try to exploit it for their maximum benefit and this should make it clear that social-driven ratings and reviews affect the brand.
2) Customer Experiences can become public
Sometimes a customer’s experience can turn ugly and in order to vent his or her’s anger on the retailer publicizes it in social media like facebook or twitter so such experiences do not get repeated. Some customers despite their bad experience never disclose it openly and instead pass positive comments about their experiences with the retailer.
In social media, many, if not most, brand conversations are driven by a customer experience. Some 61 percent of active social media users post about products or services to recognize a job well done, but 58 percent post to “protect others from bad experiences,” according to Nielsen and NM Incite. What’s more, a full 25 percent are vindictive when they write about brand-related experiences.
This sort of customer behavior can certainly impact a brand’s reputation.
3) Constant Innovation
Social media and blogging have also affected how brands market. To generalize, many of the best-recognized consumer and retail brands were built using a unique formula that included generating a well-defined brand message and passing on that message via mass market advertising.
While a good brand campaign will still include this approach, the present day retailer must also seek to engage customers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or any number of other social media or blogging platforms.
The need to engage has enhanced the marketing push. If you will, on social networks to the point that marketers, who in the past could rely on a formula to build the brand, must now innovate constantly, creating engaging content for social media users to interact with and consume.
One final word
Social media’s popularity and use has impacted brand marketing in at least three ways, as more consumers review products, relate customer experiences, and interact with brands.
How to improve brand marketing
As marketers, we attempt to communicate with consumers in the ways that they prefer. In fact, marketing is becoming increasingly consumer-driven. For example, with the rise of social media marketing, brands can communicate directly with their customers to develop products that sell, and consumers essentially become product “co-creators.” Today, the majority of online content is user-generated, and content will increasingly come from a customer’s peers. Marketers need advocates buzzing about their products as people increasingly receive information about brands from their social connections.
The question in everyone’s mind is: How does a company acquire brand evangelists? Here, we’ll discuss how much a genuine, humanized brand voice matters in your quest to get people raving about you to all of their friends not to mention from long-lasting brand-customer relationships built on a solid foundation of trust.
Here are 10 key tips to help improve the way your brand communicates with consumers.
1) Be Authentic
People don’t want brands talking at them as if they’re dollar signs they want authentic communication. Maintain an authentic tone when posting and interacting with consumers – one that doesn’t seem forced. Always speak like a human being. Communicate directly with fans and followers and be flexible and spontaneous. Instead of solely tracking and analyzing, you can spend time planning and be perfecting your brand voice.
2) Have a Conversation
Remember that voice and tone matter; they humanize your brand and let you take part in conversations naturally. Take the time to have genuine, real-time dialogue with customers and prospects to better position your brand in a world of evolving and increasingly niche markets. Define and uphold a strong social media marketing voice and others will start doing your marketing for you.
3) Create Buyer image
Creating buyer image, or fictional, generalized characters that build a picture of your ideal and largest markets, helps you better understand your core customer groups. In order to organize your research, you can start by conducting interviews and surveys, then organize and format your image research, finalize specific buyer image, and lastly, use your buyer image for segmentation, content mapping, and lead nurturing. When you truly know your ideal customer, you will create more compelling content that they’ll respond positively to.
4) Show Your Personality
Develop a image that delights your customers. Delighted customers talk positively about your brand, essentially driving new content creation. This content then reaches other customers and prospects, delivering your message naturally. Put a face on your brand and let a real personality shine through. Cater to your buyer personas and post the kind of content they enjoy. Let readers know that your brand is professional, of course, but also fun and enjoyable. People often prefer a connection over information.
5) Provide Relevant Content
Great content is only great as long as it goes hand in hand with your target audience. Take the time to really understand your readers. Research their challenges and publish content that speaks directly to them, where and when they prefer. In doing this, you’ll enhance your reach.
6) Be Helpful
Create a presence in social communities by helping people. Spend time crafting genuinely helpful replies rather than just dropping links all over the place. Building those relationships will carry your business forward at a rapid pace. It is critical that you are helping people rather than focusing only on driving traffic and metrics.
7) Focus on Quality Engagement over Quantity
Quality of the engagement with a message must be keyed in more so than the quantity of engagements. Thoughtful comments and replies or posts that answer your audience’s common questions give your brand an edge while building trust. And, speaking directly to your customers gives you a much better idea of how to market to them than merely analyzing data. Traffic is nice, but truly engaging with the reader means more.
8) Be Open
Transparency and openness can be a huge asset as you are generating your social media marketing voice. This type of marketing is unique. Few companies share the intimate details of their journey, and doing so can help you stand out from your competition. Writing with openness and transparency also helps you communicate with confidence; nothing is off the table to discuss.
9) Post About Things Other than Your Own Brand
Make sure your posts aren’t all just about your company or industry – although those are important, too. When you venture outside of your usual topics once in a while, it makes people feel comfortable being themselves because you’re being yourself, too. Share great posts by other industry leaders and touch upon relevant news. It’s always beneficial to keep content interesting so as not to lose people’s interest. Keep your audiences coming back for more.
10) Throw in Content for Pure Consumer Enjoyment
Post things that you think your audience would just plain enjoy sometimes, with no link to your blog, or transaction attached. This will make people more than like your posts – they’ll look forward to them. This also enhances trust because readers will see that you aren’t just on a mission to promote; you’re there to delight and serve your audience. If you come across a funny YouTube video that would speak to your buyer personas, share it! Don’t be afraid to try new things.
With the rise of collaborative marketing, marketers must shift from marketing “at” consumers to marketing “with” consumers. We have reached a point where companies that simply view social media as a mass communication channel for blasting out messages to a mass audience are not genuine in their endeavor for successful brand marketing. Barriers between companies and their consumers will continue if proper steps are not taken towards brand marketing.
The above ten solutions will help your brand face its consumers genuinely and effectively.