Social media for brands
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  • 1. Social Media for Brands
  • 2. Social Media for BrandsSocial media is online content that users can easily participate in and contribute to in orderto interact with each other in online conversations. It’s people who are the keys to socialmedia, and it’s people who can parlay that participation, interaction and influence intosomething that can do a world of good for you and your brand. This white paper will discussthe basics of branding using social media as well as why it’s so important and how to bestimplement a social media strategy to ensure optimal customer relationship management(CRM) success in the long run. 3 Branding 101 3 Social Media by the Numbers 5 The Evolution 6 Why Brands Use Social Media 7 Ground Rules for Brands Using Social Media 8 How to Take Advantage of Social Media 11 Where to Start
  • 3. Branding 101A brand has a personality, and it’s the job of marketers to share that personality throughadvertising, packaging, public relations, customer service and, ideally, every conceivableconsumer touchpoint available to them. But with the rise of social media, customerscan suddenly interact on a one-on-one basis with their favorite products and services.The impact this interaction has on the way brands are perceived by other consumers istremendous.Due to this phenomenon, brands have become like people. They’re experts, peers, evenfriends to consumers. And just like people, brands have adopted social media. Brandshave blogs, Facebook pages, YouTube channels and Twitter accounts. Because socialmedia are unlike any other marketing interaction, they must be used and treated differently.The proper handling of your brand’s social media management should be a part of asuccessful customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. The experience customershave in their interactions with your brand can mean the difference between hearing thecash register ring and silence.Social Media by the NumbersOne look at the numbers will prove it: Now is the time to be a trailblazer or risk beinglast to the party. It is estimated that in 2009, the total number of social network userswill be more than 85 billion. A balance and combination of different types of social mediaare ideal for a rich experience for a brand’s audience.
  • 4. Specifically, Twitter In April of this year, it was reported that Twitter’s growth was 1,382%, but Twitter’s actual numbers may be far less than that, considering over half its users engage only once a month or less often. But at the same time, according to Nielsen, users’ total minutes spent on Twitter rose by a staggering 3,712% from April 2008 to April 2009. This means that the number of people simply counted as users is decreasing, and the number of people actively using the sites is increasing steadily. Even though Twitter has been seen as “trendy,” trends in technology today operate differently than trends in design or fashion. With social media, the steeper the rise in popularity, the longer the staying power will be. So it’s not likely that Twitter will go away just as quickly as it came to be. Specifically, YouTube Every minute, 10 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.1 That’s a striking statistic, considering the growth potential of user-generated content in the coming years. The more users generate, the more connected to the media they become. Once you can grab that loyal audience, you can interact with them on an almost daily basis if you give them a reason to become loyal to your brand. Become a trusted source of content for your audience, and you’ve got a strong tie that could be very rewarding. Specifically, Facebook The time users spend on Facebook increased 699% from April 2008 to April 2009. Although Facebook users dial up and down their participation pretty regularly, it’s clear from its 200 million active users that the site isn’t going away anytime soon. By now, companies are well aware of the site’s broadening popularity, and they’re using that to their advantage. For example, if a company selling cell phone service touts the ability for the phone to interface with Facebook, they’re telling their audience that they understand their needs, which in turn helps Facebook grow as well.2 Specifically, LinkedIn LinkedIn.com is a professional social networking site where usage grew by 69% from April 2008 to April 2009. For LinkedIn, the increase in unique visits can largely be attributed to the corresponding increase in national unemployment. LinkedIn’s site experience is somewhat limited to networking and job searches although new applications are being added to the site. Overall, its simplicity is appealing to a segment of users who value credible, to-the-point interactions.http://www.youtube.com/t/fact_sheet1http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/09/facebooks-very-long-path-to-oblivion/?emc=eta12
  • 5. Specifically, MySpace According to Compete.com, MySpace’s numbers of unique visitors have flattened and declined, while Facebook’s have more than doubled in the past year. This decline in comparison to the other social media heavy hitters is due in most part to the site’s current less-than-exemplary record for being home to less-than- exemplary characters. Many of its users have jumped to Facebook, though the site is still a place for the music industry’s new and untapped musicians and artists to get discovered. The Evolution One of the most interesting phenomena about social media is how quickly the technology changes in ways their creators never imagined. This is especially true of Twitter. Twitter, which was created as a micro-blogging service, is evolving based largely on user-generated demands and third-party innovations to meet those demands. This creates a unique situation in which the connections felt by users are even stronger. For example, the @reply function came about via user demand. According to the Twitter blog, “@replies were not originally part of Twitter. They were embraced by the community first, and then we built them into the system.”3 Users wanted to be able to do more than just tell people what they were eating for dinner. They wanted to talk to each other, and thus the @reply function was born. As users gain more and more control and connection, they feel a greater sense of ownership, which in turn leads to loyalty.http://blog.twitter.com/2008/05/how-replies-work-on-twitter-and-how.html3
  • 6. Why Brands Use Social Media Social media and its technology tend to create evangelists. These users have spheres of influence that have the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of people. The concept isn’t new and in fact is pretty simple: Give your customer something to rave about and they might tell a few of their friends about your brand. But employ this model on a social medial platform like Twitter and the opportunity to spread that positive experience to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people is right there at their fingertips. Thus, the effort on the part of the customer is minimal — and it quite literally pays off. Case in point: @DellOutlet4 — New Revenue Models In one of the first public examples of a company making actual profit from the social networking site, Dell has reported that they attribute $3 million in sales to customers clicking through their @DellOutlet Twitter account to one of their sales sites. Over $1 million of those sales were in the past six months alone. Dell has about 600,000 followers and “is one of the top 100 most-followed accounts on Twitter, according to private trackers TwitterCounter and Twitterholic.” The account @DellOutlet has achieved this success in only six to 10 posts per week — quite a substantial return- on-investment. Case in point: Coca-Cola on Facebook5 — Brand Engagement It’s not entirely surprising that a huge brand like Coke has the second-largest group on the wildly popular social networking site Facebook. What is surprising, however, is how it got there. A search on Facebook for fan pages named “Coke” yields 425 pages full of results, with everything from kosher Coke to Coke with bacon. But the largest fan page, called simply “Coca-Cola,” has over 3.4 million fans and was started by two real Coke fans named Dusty and Michael J. — another great example of how the most popular social media inroads are often user-driven. And when that occurs, the users’ ties to the technology and product are stronger. “A strong brand community increases customer loyalty, decreases marketing spend, authenticates brand meaning and yields an influx of ideas to grow business.” — Harvard Business Review4 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/12/AR2009061201160.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter%22%3EDell%20link%3C/a%3E:5 http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=135238 http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=logo#/coca-cola?ref=s
  • 7. Case in point: Vitamin Shoppe Social Network6 — Brand Communities An example of an exterior, company-created social media network, the Vitamin Shoppe site was created with social media solutions partner company Mzinga. The site integrated its social media function, thereby performing much more than just an everyday ecommerce function for its users. Instead, it became a social network in and of itself, giving customers the ability to register, set up avatars, review, share and comment on products, and more. This resulted in increased credibility of the site, increased word-of-mouth discussion and networking among customers, increased site traffic, a better user experience and of course, increased online sales. They gave their audience value, which continues to keep them engaged with the Vitamin Shoppe brand. Ground Rules for Brands Using Social Media The costs associated with participating in social media are relatively small and can pay off big time, but it’s important to have the right approach to yield results. Give and you shall receive “Allow your consumers to help drive your approach to social media. Replace one-way dialogue and false brand control with a mixture of structure and flexibility where both parties are rewarded from good online experiences.” — Harvard Business Review Users aren’t instantly going to become fans of your brand, love it and tell all their friends without getting something in return. There needs to be a reason for them to become a fan, join your community, chat about or rate your products, or comment about you. If you’re using Twitter or Facebook, offer your followers or fans a discount, or let them be first to know about the latest product launch. If you have a blog, contests are great ways to get people to spread the word about you. Basically, do things for your fans and you’ll make them even bigger fans.http://www.vitaminshoppe.com6http://www.mzinga.com/en/community_customers/spotlights/newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter%22%3EDell%20link%3C/a%3E:
  • 8. Be transparent, authentic and honest The top 10–15% of users, the highly involved and experienced users on any social media platform, will be your best influencers, but they can also be your worst enemy if they smell a rat. In the realm of social media, a rat is an obvious push to make money off the system. That’s why the proper and transparent use of social media by brands is crucial.How to Take Advantage of Social MediaThere are many ways to use social media to positively affect your brand’s online presence.But it’s the manner in which you create the perfect mix of these that will create yourstrategy for success in the social media world.“Increasingly we are seeing companies who aren’t just gently participating in user-generated content, or dipping their toes tentatively into the social networking pool, instead, they are investing full-throttle in a multi-faceted social media strategy.” — Jeremy Jameson via hotelmarketing.com
  • 9. • Awareness7 This is the simplest reason to have a brand presence on social networking sites. It goes all the way back to Branding 101 — social networking sites are just another touchpoint for your customers and potential customers. They’re yet another opportunity to reinforce or spread the reach of your brand personality, whether you drive people there via mass or viral efforts. Your brand must be consistent and have integrity and honesty. • Engagement It’s pretty much a guarantee these days that there already is a conversation on social networking sites about your brand. And it’s no longer an option to ignore it. The best-managed brands engage their customers and potential customers in that conversation — good and bad — for the purposes of correcting perceptions, explaining their actions, acting as public relations representatives, and just being a brand that consumers can connect with. Those connections range from simple interaction, to involvement, intimacy and influence. According to Forrester Research, 42% of adults and 55% of youths want to interact with brands. • Innovation and market research Social media allow brands to have their finger on the pulse of their customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A quick search engine query can deliver reasonably telling results with little effort, a Twitter search can yield answers in real time, and with a little more effort, you can get a grasp of your audience’s opinions using a quick poll on a blog or on Facebook. For very little cost, you can quickly get a feel for how your product is being received, what your customers would like to see in the future, how they feel about your customer service or practically any other topic. The focus group is out there; You just have to engage them. • Product launches and events An inexpensive and quick way to generate interest in your upcoming launch or event is to employ your brand’s social media reach. Communicating and getting feedback can make your first launch or event great and your next go-around even better. • Thought leadership and education “Online consumers trust the opinions of other blog reviews and ratings 12–20% more than print, TV, direct mail, email and radio advertisements.” — Harvard Business ReviewAdapted from Marketing Communications in a Social Media World, a webinar by Mzinga.7
  • 10. When you use social media to educate customers and potential customers, you have a platform in which they can interact with your brand, ask questions and get the specific answers they seek. They’re not just told what you think they need to know or want to hear. And when you give them what they want and need, they’ll appreciate it. According to Forrester Research, social media users are divided into six categories of involvement: Inactives, Spectators, Joiners, Collectors, Critics and Creators. They all interact with your brand in different ways, but those in the highest- involvement categories have the largest and strongest spheres of influence. They are the thought leaders, and they can help your brand. They create enhanced credibility for other users. • Customer service and support“When you have a problem, your first instinct is not to call the customer service because it’s going to be painful. People are sharing their problems on Twitter before contacting the call center.” — Alex Dayon, Senior VP, Salesforce.com Today’s consumers expect help to be available to them whenever and wherever they want it. They often prefer instantaneous answers to their questions as well as support from their brands and other customers. That’s what social media
  • 11. can bring together. Users can communicate, answer other users’ questions, write reviews, comment, rant, rave and be sources of information regarding brands. And that’s all before the brand itself gets involved. Add a way for the brand to get into the into the conversation and it’s an even better source for the customers. The brands that are paying attention and the brands with the best customer service in the realm of social media are getting a lot of positive attention right now, and that in and of itself is one of the best reasons to jump in and start using social media to its fullest potential. • Ecommerce Lastly, it’s important to make that cash register ring. While slightly more difficult to prove, social media are generating some numbers that should not be ignored. For one, Twitter is a proven traffic driver8, and that traffic can lead to sales if you can sell them something once they get there. And there’s that bottom line. Where to Start? Once you’ve made the decision to create a social media plan, lay out your objectives and be sure to follow through. Research what other companies are doing to satisfy goals similar to yours and improve upon their tactics for the best results. Below are some social media marketing tactics used by the world’s best-in-class companies, which again prove that now is the time to be an early adopter. Don’t wait. Join the conversation today, and start improving the reach and image of your brand. !Written by Rachel Pinn (@javelin_rach).Other contributors: Michael Radigan (@mradigan), Rachel DeFriend (@javelin_rdef), Rondo Estrello (@javelin_rondo)http://www.mediabistro.com/baynewser/on/techcrunch_twitter_is_a_powerful_traffic_driver_118955.asp8