Social media is a very hot topic right now, and rightfully so, and I’ve heard more than one company wonder out loud though if it belongs in the Brand Strategy. In my opinion, the answer is a resounding YES, if it’s not part of your integrated Brand Strategy, you’re missing a vital channel for furthering your brand position. As I see it, there are two primary reasons to include social media in your brand strategy:
- It’s an ideal mechanism for personalizing and individualizing your brand.
- It allows your loyal customers to do some promoting for you.
Here’s the situation – people like individuals – not faceless groups or buildings. They need to identify with someone who sounds and looks like themselves (or someone they want to be). This is where a well executed social media strategy can be extremely helpful. The social media channel is more informal and relaxed as compared to the highly crafted and polished radio spot, TV commercial, or print ad, social media is at it’s heart, soul (and even name) — social. So done correctly, social media demonstrates it’s knowledge of societal rules and manners by engaging in (and paying attention to) conversations that are happening around it. Personally thanking and engaging people who have mentioned the company. Initiating conversations with the “wall-flower” that doesn’t quite know how to jump into the conversation so they feel less awkward. Social media should be a representation of our best and most courteous selves. The interesting thing about this is that being an engaging conversationalist allows people observing the conversation to see who your brand is and what it stands for. Which means they are forming opinions about your brand personality.
The second reason you need social media in your branding strategy is that it gives your best customers an opportunity to share their passion for you with their social circle. Social media makes it easy for them to proclaim to the world that they are interested in what you’re company is doing. They do this with little to no effort – just clicking a button to Like or Follow. Once that button is clicked, they receive every update you care to send – and more importantly they have the ability to comment on what you’re sending. That means you get instant feedback on what your fans like, and dislike. These fans can become an advisory group for your brand. Float a couple of balloons, see what happens. Often, they will also publicly engage your brand, either proclaiming it as wonderful for all their friends and contacts to see, weighing in on questions or ideas you pose, and occasionally sharing a shortcoming. (Not to worry, check out Your Brand on the Web for strategies to handle this scenario.) More often than not, the engagement will be positive and will be amplified to their friends and family. That amplification will influence those individuals to choose your company the next time they are considering making a related purchase. Personal recommendations go much farther these days than paid advertising – so capitalize on that and allow your loyal customer the chance to recommend you.
These are just two of a myriad of reasons you should participate in social media and incorporate it into your brand strategy. Take the time now to figure out how your social media efforts will further your overall brand position. It’ll save you money and make sure that you’re working on an integrated approach to your brand position.