Can You Build A Brand With Social Media?
If I had fifty sen for every CEO and director who told me “we’re not sure if we should go on Facebook. What if people post something negative about our [insert product or service] and everyone sees it and stops buying?”
My answer would be “what if people post something good about your brand and everyone sees it and rushes out to buy it? And why shouldn’t you respond quickly, truthfully and sincerely to that negative post, just like how you would respond face-to-face with a negative customer?”
Brands can no longer afford to ignore the giant that is social media anymore. It is a crucial part of your brand building efforts, and an important leverage for SMEs to level the communication playing field with the big boys. Indeed, it has even spawned the new ‘social marketing’ category. But for all its capabilities and advantages, brands need to realize that social media is a channel, just like the radio or the billboard. It is a means of getting your message across. What matters foremost is your content. Brands still need a well thought-out brand story to leverage emotional and persuasive elements to push the sales needle.
Your brand strategy needs to determine your social strategy, not the other way around.
In other words, your message is the same. What is changing is who you say it to and how you say it to them.
A Forrester report highlights that social media has fundamentally changed how consumers engage with brands. They believe that to be successful, brands must point their brand compass in the direction that helps them build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable and essential.
So how do you use social media to help your brand building efforts? Forrester identified three strategic roles for social media to play as part of an integrated brand building effort. I will include local or relevant examples where possible. Which strategic role to use and when to use it depends on your brand and your brand strategy.
Social media role #1: build a relationship
For brands that need to build trust, social media can make messages more engaging to support product and company initiatives. Brand marketers can:
- humanize a faceless corporation. Social has the ability to express the deeper meaning behind a brand. Prudential launched Project Listen, an initiative to collect inspiring and touching stories of everyday Malaysians. It highlights how Prudential listens to their customer’s needs and ensures customers fully understand the solutions available. The stories are captured on video and ran as ads, were posted on the campaign website as well as dedicated YouTube channel.
- create groundswell support for risky decisions. This is what Gap should have done when top management up-and-decided to replace their logo with a much ridiculed one. Changing your brand logo is always a risky decision, made even riskier when your brand is a well-loved consumer brand that has used the logo for ages. Gap should have rallied designers, agencies and a customer panel to blog, tweet, post and video its new logo change to create groundswell support.
- correct a negative image. Malaysia Airlines is always thought to be the runner up to Air Asia because they are less efficient and their fares are higher. Instead of focusing their message on price, Malaysia Airlines used social media to amplify their brand strategy, which is its hospitable experience and award winning service. The brand has used social media to launch their new A380 plane as well as several apps such as MH Buddy and MHMobile.
Take care to be truthful and sincere when communicating with people, and be genuinely interested in listening and sharing, just like an actual friend does.
How are you using social media to build a relationship with your customers? What other roles are you using social media for? Find out about strategic roles 2 and 3 in next week’s newsletter.
Julia Koh is the Executive Director of Brand 360 Degree Sdn Bhd and believes everything starts with the brand, related to the brand and ends with the brand.