Marketing Trends, Insights and Social Branding

There’s a shift in the market.

I believe the business community has heard enough about how much they need social media, seen how big companies have adopted it, been to enough presentations saying the exact same thing in a slightly different way. They’ve seen the artic… well you get the point.

What I noticed recently is the steady rise in demand for good, sound social media strategy and a waning demand for generic social media rah-rah fluff. Businesspeople are asking “What Now?“. And this is just the beginning. We’re pushing to the next stage of the adoption curve. What comes next is the same thing that happened with websites a few years ago. Many were reluctant to build one when that shift started happening. What I suggest is for you to skip ahead this time around.

You will have to consider “socializing” your marketing presence not as a side project,  but as an integral part of your marketing efforts. Based on my experience in the traditional media channels, I know this will be the next hurdle for some companies to overcome. So I thought I would share some ideas and insights about where things are and where you should be.

You must Full Monte, whether you like it or not.

As much as web democratized some things, it’s like feudalism compared to the pure speed and power of ideas spreading through social media. Entire conversations about you, your products and your service are happening far out of your direct reach and influence. It still amuses me to speak to a new client and show them reviews other people have been writing on a specialty forum, Yelp or Google. Rather than attempting to control these (which you can’t), I would suggest being open, honest, direct and most of all nice.

You are now the target market.

For far too long companies had the opportunity to shove their message down our throats… repeatedly… in a variety of media. This changed a while ago, but even more so with the proliferation and advancement of mobile technology and social media. I, as a consumer, don’t have to watch TV, listen to the radio or get eye-assaulted by obtrusive outdoor and indoor ads. I can just turn my phone on, watch a show I want to watch, listen to music I want to listen to, play with an app I decide to play with… It’s YOUR turn to listen to what I have to say, on MY networks, forums and other democratized media under my control.

Do some good (aka social branding)

With that said… much like Google’s motto “Don’t be evil“, I strongly encourage you to do some good. The value of goodwill, social equity and exceptional customer service far outweighs, and more importantly out-reaches, your billboard spend. Fantastic campaigns such as the Pepsi Refresh project, Threadless’ Brand Love or Target’s Play and Learn are what we should all aspire to. Not only are they doing good in the community, but also engaging audiences and branding themselves on social channels and leveraging their audience’s networks.

With that said, it’ll now be interesting to see how marketing managers and presidents decide to handle this shift.  I look forward to the exciting changes we’ll all go through in the next few years as our lives become more intertwined with technology and new ways to interact with our environment.

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8 thoughts on “Marketing Trends, Insights and Social Branding”

  1. Hello my friend, great post and so very true. I am also starting to see more and more of our clients asking about how they make money with the new media. Real business needs to show a return but many of our colleagues in the industry want to preach group hugs and rah rah rah.

    Our team talks about websites as being a marketing engine that converts qualified visitors that come to your site to potential leads.

    Enough of the group love stuff and let’s make some real money

    Stuart Crawford

    • @Stuart Just curious Stuart, but to whom are you referring when you say ‘many of our colleagues in the industry want to preach group hugs and rah rah rah.’

      @Ernest Great article. My only comment is those common good campaigns you mentioned are very expensive and the vast majority of businesses can’t travel down that route. For example, I am working with a client right now on that exact issue. We are working on a way of promoting their unique community efforts effectively while adding value to their business. ALl this is being done of course on a very small budget, which isn’t without some serious challenges.

      • Great point. It can be tough to strike a good balance between spend, reach and time it takes, especially with a small budget. It’s like balancing the chicken and the egg it terms of what comes first. We all know it can be done, but more then anything, I believe it would require a stellar idea to drive the whole campaign. That said, even though I believe a good idea trumps paid distribution, generally there still needs to be an investment of time or money. To be effective in these kind of efforts, a business would have to build a base to start with, then start ratcheting up engagement until you have an audience. It’s almost like believing that “if you build it, they will come”.

        Just my $0.02

  2. The social media phenom is still in its infancy. To date, there has been more hype than reality to what it can deliver. I think Stuart’s comments reflect a maturing of the concept as the real cost of incorporating social media is becoming more apparent. Its not free, its not easy and it doesn’t necessarily generate desired business results. Even the big guys with deep pockets are facing this challenge as highlighted by the Old Spice campaign.

    But one of the true advantages offered to small businesses is the ability to get into the game, experiment and adopt those elements that work for your business.

    I’m not yet convinced it is the pancea many try to protray. But I do know that by incorporating social media into our marketing strategy, we are going to be head and shoulders more successful than those that ignore it or don’t try to understand where it can impact their business.

    • Hi Volker,

      Thanks for chiming in! I think we’re beyond infancy by now and moving into early adolescence where changes are unpredictable and many. As for the ease and business results… I’d have to say that it *can* be easier then other media choices, depending on how it integrates with the overall marketing strategy and how savvy those doing the “doing” are. Social Media is so intertwined into our lives that it’s just becoming a natural channel of communication. As for Old Spice though, they did see a 107% increase in sales after the Twitter / YouTube campaign, so I’d say it was a success.

      All that aside, someone said it best when they said “Social Media is just another channel of communication, much like e-mail or phone”, so the real benefit will come in the form of integration. Rather then putting all your eggs in one basket, business should be building a mini eco-system of marketing touchpoints.

  3. I agree that SMM is no longer an infant, but more of a young adult who needs to choose between continuing to party with friends vs a good solid career.

    In some respects I find that Canada is way behind in accepting a wholeistic and beneficial approach to SMM.

    Social Media is no fad. Although it will continue to morph, it is here to stay. 400 million, plus, active users as of Feb 2010 on Facebook alone, and add in the success of YouTube! This “thang” can’t be considered a fad!

    Volker, not sure what you mean by, “challenge as highlighted by the Old Spice campaign,”? That surely has become one of the most successful campaigns in traditional media to-date that has also successfully morphed into SMM through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. All you have to say is “Old Spice Guy” or “I’m on a horse!,” and even your local barber knows what you are talking about.

    We all see many businesses finding their niche in SMM and successfully running with it!

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