The Dawning of aNew Era? In year 20 of the Internet as we know it, we see the rise of a whole new world. Its a world of exploding connectivity — which sounds great for marketers. But this world was built for people, not brands. Is your brand on Facebook, on Twitter? Are you happy with what you get? The opportunity is said to be huge. But what is it? We suggest its: Sharing Surplus.
He, Look at Me!Im the Brand thatMakes You Happy. Brands want to stand out from the competition and connect with consumers. Thats their job. And their job description doesnt change just because people ﬁnd new ways to connect — unless they change the rules of the game. Are social media a game changer for brands? Books have been written about the "new rules" in the "network economy". Whats the reality?
The BrokenEconomies of theStar-BrandSystem. Brands used to connect with consumers via one-way media. And still today, nothing reaches hearts and minds more effectively than a beneﬁt drama in technicolor. But the costs of staging the drama and maintaining consumers interest keep rising. Can social media ﬁll the gap between what brands need to do and what they can afford?
Hello, Im YourConsumer.I Dont Want to Bea Target. "Markets are conversations" opened the Cluetrain Manifesto in 2000. Since then, social media have given consumers an even stronger arm over brands and their policies. Do brands have to be in social media to open the consumer dialogue? Turns out, people dont have so much to talk with brands — and social media might just be the new service hotline…
The Strategy of theCluelessCosmonaut. We are all like clueless cosmonauts, teleported into an unknown corner of the space- time-continuum. At this moment, trying to understand the grand design might not make us ﬁt for survival. Right now, it is more important to check the oxygen supply — or selﬁshly ask: whats essential for the survival of my brand? And can I ﬁnd some of it in social media?
Brand Essential 1:Quality.(Since 3000 BC) Trust marks must be as old as our civilization. Specimen of quality branding can be found from the rubbles of Babylon and Pompeji to the Golden Age of Madison Avenue. Today, after Kaizen and Six Sigma, however, quality appears like a problem solved. But consumer expectations go far beyond "doesnt break" now. Their idea of quality now is built-in excitement.
Brand Essential 2:Position.(Since 1950) The late 20th century brought moderate wealth to all — and a new challenge for brands: hyper competition. As a response, marketers looked to gain competitive advantage by better understanding the psychology of buying. "Consumer insight" became a brands most valuable asset. This is where most brands are, today.
Brand Essential 3:Sharing.(Since 2001) NE W Actually, it is not true. People have talked about brands, used them to demonstrate who they are or aspire to be, long before the Internet and social media. Brands have always been part of our "Social Graph" (as Mark Zuckerberg calls it). But the importance of sharing has grown in proportion with our technical reach. Where once one persons good- or bad-mouthing of a brand only reached a few mates in the pub, it can have global repercussions now.
The Rocket Scienceof Branding. So we have three levels of branding: the functional (Quality); the psychological (Position); and the social (Sharing). Of these three levels, marketing is most familiar with the ﬁrst two. Therefore, they receive the lions share of attention and budgets. The third level, though not as well understood, is a missed opportunity for one simple reason: Since sharing has value for the consumer it has economic value, too. The question is how to convert it.
The New BrandValue Equation. EURO On the ﬁrst two levels of branding, we assume that the value for the consumer lies totally in owning and consuming the brand. The consumer could be alone on an island with the brand and its value would be the same. Very obviously, this is not true. An increasing share of a brand buyers R.O.I. comes in the shape of social feedback.
Introducing theSharing Surplus. Why do we call the — not so new — reward that consumers get from sharing their brand choices with others, a surplus? Because, before the arrival of social media, it was only available to show-off luxury labels. And because, through the reach of social media, it has grown to an economically serious size. Sharing surplus can create windfall value for brands if they manage to tap it.
Not All Brands AreEqually Sociable. Not all brands can beneﬁt equally from a sharing surplus. In some product categories, consumers may always prefer to keep their choices private. But many more brands will be positively surprised by the willingness of people to placard their preferences in the digital public. It just depends on whether the sharing helps them grow their own social capital.
Introducing theSocial Capitalist. In social media, people — like brands — are in the business of collecting thumbs-up. Nobody will advocate a brand in his circle of cynical others if the endorsement doesnt earn him a social reward. And what triggers social rewards is much rather an ofﬁce joke, a funny video or just a useful piece of inside information, than an ad. What brands need to critically understand is that in social media, brand fame comes as a trade-off of user fame.
How Can BrandsHelp TheirCustomers CollectSocial Rewards? Brands can leverage the power of social media only indirectly: by providing that users who share brand-related messages with their peers will get positive feedback. Before starting to plan a social media strategy, we should have a better understanding of the nature of social reward and of the ways in which brands can trigger it.
Social Capital inFour Flavours. When you look at it from a birds eye perspective, there are only four kinds of social reward that people can get — and that brands can help them getting. What ﬂavor of reward your brand dispenses is not simply a matter of your choosing. It depends on the nature of the relationship that your brand has with its customers. So the key question is: what ﬂavor of reward can your brand help consumers to win from their peers?
The Social Profileof a Brand. What kind of social reward your brand dispenses depends on how it relates to its customers. Underlying every relationship are 2 dimensions: 1. The power dimension: Is the brand in a dominant, or a supportive role for the user? 2. The emotional dimension: Is the relationship colored by emotions, or purely rational? The key question guiding a Social Brand Strategy is: What is the role of your brand in the relationship with its customers?
A Navigation Systemfor the CluelessCosmonaut. The relationship perspective provides us with a basic grid for navigating the confusing world of social media. The grid may be simplistic. But it lends structure to the planning process and helps master some avoidable pitfalls. Social media planning will still be trial and error — but with much less error.
The Dawning ofthe Social Brand The future is bright for brands that manage to earn their Social Surplus. Customers, investors and talented employees are gathering around brands that are good company. Great ideas are and will be the heart and soul of great brands. – But social skills are their hands and feet.
Is Your BrandReady for theConversation?Really?! Are you ready for a meaningful conversation with dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of involved consumers? For signiﬁcant investments without immediate measurable returns? For giving away control, in exchange for endorsement by anonymous web crowds?