Does being social help a brand’s bottom line?
Today, we take the existence of popular social media platforms for granted in our daily lives. Although not everyone is sharing online, many of us are. Facebook alone boasts over 800 million active users at last count, but many other platforms are making tremendous leaps in accessibility and engagement.
Only six years ago, marketers were struggling to understand the importance of social media, and in fact most were still wondering if engaging on social platforms was even worth their time. Of course, far fewer platforms existed at the time, and their interfaces were not nearly as sophisticated. After the explosion of Facebook and Twitter, however, marketers have had only one question on their minds: how does a brand become social, and how does being social help a brand’s bottom line?
No Such Thing as “One Way”
Just as it is in the real world, social engagement can be a tricky thing. At its most basic premise, however, if a brand wants to “go social” it must understand that conversations are a two-way street. Marketers can’t simply take to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and start demanding that users buy their products.
Aspiring social brands must learn to build dynamic relationships with their consumers. Going social is about not only sharing their own rich content with users, but also responding to the content those users share with them. The “one way street” model of marketing simply will not work in an era of collaborative engagement.
Imagine Yourself at a Party
Picture your brand as a person arriving at party full of strangers. You were invited here by a loyal consumer, one your closest brand advocates, and it is their job to show you around the room and introduce you to the rest of their friends.
Obviously you’re going to want to make a good first impression, and with as many individuals as possible. To do this, you’ll first need to understand the type of party you’ve joined. Is this a business party, a chance to make contacts? Or is it a casual affair, a chance to tell a few good jokes and make new friends?
Knowing the nature of your environment—as well as what you’re hoping to get out of your interactions—is the most essential component of social branding. If you’re not sure why you’re at the party, you’re going to find it difficult to connect with anyone, as you’ll likely come off as inauthentic—a phony.
Be the Life of the Party
Once you’re at the party, you’re going to want to tell everyone about yourself and what you do. And you should, but remember: nobody likes monologues. If you don’t let your new acquaintances get some words in edgewise, they’ll likely lose interest and go find someone else to talk to. Share yourself with them, but allow them to share with you, too. By doing so, you’ll likely find the conversation heading in surprising—and potentially lucrative—directions.
By doing this, you’ll get people talking about you, even if you’re no longer a direct part of every conversation. Remember, it’s not just about you and the products you’re offering—it’s about the story you’re telling. When people talk about you, they’ll be talking about their experience with you, and not the things you’re trying to sell them.
In other words, to become a successful social brand that truly inspires consumer loyalty, your brand story has to matter. If people can’t identify with your brand’s mission, personality and values, they simply won’t engage, no matter how persistent your social media presence may be.
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Great article, great analogy. I would add that each network has its own personality and style and finding the right fit is so important.
As I’ve counseled some friends contemplating social media for their companies: really think about whether you have the time and desire to understand, engage and respond on a given platform before plunging in. Because once you start a dialogue customers will certainly tell you what they think. Are you prepared to listen?
Thanks so much for your comments!