By Melinda Varley
Social media should be an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy, according to Katy Howell, social media relations consultant at Immediate Future. She says that the medium should no longer be looked upon as a nice thing to have, but a must have.
As discussed at our round table, consumers are now spending more time online than they are in front of any other media outlet, making it a neutral space for consumers and brands to communicate. But how can it work for you?
Why you should be using social media to reach youth audiences?
Furthermore, over 60 per cent of young consumers (16 – 24) use social media at least weekly, and about 40 per cent check their networks every day, according to Forrester Research. These young creators grew up in the age of personal computers, graphical user interfaces, and digital social annotations.
The social media boom of the past few years has created an online identity and digital hub, altered as frequently as one's clothes.
Social media is where the real fun and conversations are occurring and therefore is a place where consumers can go to engage with brands, both on an emotional and rational level.
How to keep the conversation flowing
When marketers engage in community driven conversations though, they need to talk with real voices and have genuine conversations. It’s all about relationship building and brands cannot simply pretend to be interested in what consumers are saying.
These conversations should also be open-ended and the community should be in the driver’s seat.
Brands must also evaluate how to appropriately engage with their customers in a way that is mutually beneficial to consumers and the brands alike.
Social media as a consumer’s first touch point
Immediate Future’s Howell says that social media has also has meant that the physical branded product is no longer a consumers first touch point when it comes to branding – an online identity is.
Furthermore, consumers are now said to be more likely to search for brands on social media sites rather than doing a traditional search on Google or Yahoo!.
A recent study published by MySpace in conjunction with I-Level’s social media arm Jam, found that 32 per cent of social network users were likely to click through a website and purchase services from an ad on the site.
The study states that brands which are successfully engaging consumers via social media are cashing in on sales and clicks, while those that aren’t risk being left out in the cold.
According to the report, one fifth of people actually look for ways to find out what
a brand has to offer via its social networking profile – making it a perfect place to create brand buzz and word-of-mouth.
Don’t let concerns over ROI hold you back
One of the main concerns when it comes to embarking on social media campaigns that marketers expressed at our round table was the lack of knowledge about return on investment (ROI).
Howell says that regardless of the marketing discipline, no marketer can prove categorically how much sales go up following any given campaign.
She says, “Everything is of course measurable in some way, but those figures are never guaranteed. Why? There is no ‘one size fits all’ template when it comes to measuring ROI as every campaign, in all its different channels, has a different goal.
“A TV campaign you do could be about building sales and drawing attention to a new product or offer, while a social media campaign could be as simple as building brand awareness and having influencers say positive things about you.”
There are ways of measuring impact of brand equity such as Hall & Partner’s digital tracking studies. Marketers need to adopt measures deployed in some digital disciplines to social media as it matures.
Learning to leave your brand in the consumers’ hand
While some marketers believe that not having a presence in the social media cannot be harmful or damaging to a brand, Howell asks, “Can consumers be advocates of brands they can’t engage with online?”
Having a presence online in the social media world - whether it be on blogs, Facebook, MySapce, LinkedIn, Bebo, iVillage, Qype, Gumtree, Twitter, YouTube, imdb.com or perhaps even email – means giving your brand its own personality and profile.
Social media has decentralised brands and audiences, creating a new class of digital creators, curators, and watchful observers. This new form of distributed creation and communication has changed the way brands must market and monitor their business to both new and existing audiences.
Nick Reid, head of sales at MySpace UK, concludes, “Our research tells us that social networks have become more dynamic and engaging spaces. They have also become a place where users actively seek out what advertisers have to offer and as a result a new breed of brand ambassador has been born.”
The top five rules of positive engagement:
1. Give away freebies – reward loyalty and give them access to something they can’t get without you
2. Have an exciting and attractive profile
3. Be transparent about the product or service being sold – be honest and trustworthy
4. Entertain users and make them laugh
5. Show good manners and respect
Source: The Future Laboratory
Check out 12ahead, our brand new platform
covering the latest in cutting-edge digital marketing and creative technology from around the globe.
12ahead identifies emerging trends and helps
you to understand how they can apply to modern-day companies.
We believe 12ahead can put you and your
business 12 months ahead of the competition. Sign up for a free trial today.