Table of Contents
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How Social Media Differs From Traditional Media
Traditional media relies on creating a brand campaign and controlling the message. Social media has consumers interacting as a community on 4 levels:
- the brand
- its products
- the company
- other consumers
To instill loyalty using social media, create promotions that appeal to each of these 4 quadrants of consumer interaction.
Once you have two consumers engaged within a social media channel, a community has begun to take shape. Here, the difference between traditional media and social media is that the objective shifts from merely selling on social media to that of making connections.
Create a Raving Fan Culture
Brand communities naturally occur when customers share common interests and information to establish a type of fan culture. Different social media promotion ideas encourage consumers to play an active role in building your brand community and expand your brand’s reach.
Facebook promotions that encourage consumers to post product reviews, photos or experiences involve customer on many levels. Consumers are interacting with the the brand; a product; and most importantly, each other. Far from the basic loyalty programs of the past, where we encouraged the consumer to buy from us to get a reward, social media sincerely shows what the brand is about. It encourages consumers to to engage based on emotional experiences.
Building Social Media Brand Communities
Whether you are launching a small business, a non-profit or you work for a large, established organization, the first steps of strategic planning are establishing a vision, identifying a set of values and creating a mission statement. Apply this basic corporate data as a starting point. Then become keenly aware of the your target customers beliefs, values and the advantages you offer that coincide with these connection-building attributes.
A basic brand community is made up of its members, their relationship, and the sharing of resources – either emotional or material. For example Patagonia, the outdoor clothing manufacturer, has extended it’s clothing brand to outdoor adventures, the environment and social responsibility. Currently, the first offer on their corporate site is not a barrage of latest outerwear – it’s the latest Patagonia Book: tools for a grassroots activists.
Making a connection with a community that shares a set of values establishes a brand community and positively influences brand loyalty.
Your Online Identity is Not Just About Reviews
With the growth of online review sites, like Yelp, if you don’t have a community building strategy, trust me…it’s going to be created for you. Customers are becoming more powerful than ever before. It’s important that you solicit reviews from your raving fan customers on an ongoing basis.
Being in-touch with supportive customers, who may influence other potential customers, is a powerful way to manage customer perceptions and behaviors.
The basic ability for a brand to perform its stated function, along with repeated interactions and building a long term relationship, are the key elements to establishing brand trust.
What your brand stands for, how your product performs, how your company interacts with the community and what consumers are sharing are the basics for a solid social media strategy.
Engaging Customers From 4 Directions
Building social media loyalty can be illustrated best looking at music artist like Lady Gaga and Tailor Swift.
Swift’s 1989 album was promoted to her 140 million subscribers across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. She sold more albums in the first week than any albums did for the same period in the past 12 years.
How? She treats her fans as friends. She continually shares elements of her life along with commenting on posts and videos of her fans interacting with her “brand” in a never-ending story-driven content stream.
Both Swift and Gaga put themselves out there, interact directly with their fans, and are willing to be emotionally open as they focus on issues that are important to themselves and their community.
The 4 levels of interaction at work: their brand, who they are; their music, the product; how they distribute their music, the company; and other consumers, social sharing among their fan base. How can you become the Taylor Swift of your face book feed and other social media channels?
The Patagonia outdoor clothing retailer uses a similar strategy. The brand is more than just outerwear, it’s the environment, surfing, rock climbing and more. It is the adventure we experience using their product as earth stewards living as one with the elements of nature. They have created a compelling story for every aspect of their brand. The company is not afraid to take a stand on issues they deem important, making a strong emotional connection with consumers that share like values. They engage on all 4 levels creating a story around each.
Whats Your Story?
How can you make the production of your product into an interesting story that touches upon the shared values and beliefs of your customers?
What does your company do that has an impact on society?
Can you create an emotional appeal that touches others and get’s them involved? Sharing information at this level through social media builds relationships and establishes trust … which, ultimately creates brand loyalty.
Samples of Strategies That Engaged
Mercedes-Benz is an established brand that wanted to jump into social media using Instagram and Facebook with the launch of their first compact SUV, the GLA. ‘What would you pack into your GLA’ was the theme promoted on Instagram and fans were encouraged to post pictures of their packing choices. The promotion was so successful, Instagram used it to create a case study. Fans participated in creating their story as they engaged with the brand, product, company and other consumers.
Under Armour, the clothing company, created the #IWillWhatIWant social media campaign targeting woman with a message of inspiration. Using real life success stories of woman of all shapes and sizes, the goal was to empower other woman.
The featured video of Misty Copland, of the American Ballet, received 7.5 million views on YouTube as a result of the campaign. A great example of shared values inspiring an audience to connect.
Interject Popular Themes
Social media is the people’s media. The more power you give to the people using all 4 levels of engagement, the more trust you will build.
The top 10 shares on social media are music, technology, funny, instructional video, extraordinary, movie/TV, sports, product reviews, art and travel.
As you create sories around your brand, products and company, consider including one of these top trenders to make connections that will spread among your ever-growing community.