It’s 2012, and social media is old hat. Most adult Americans with Internet access use Facebook, and a whole lot of us use Twitter and other social media. According to a Mashable study, 58% of us have liked a brand on Facebook, while 39% of us have tweeted about a brand. See the cool Mashable “Branding in the Social Media Age” infographic. We research online, gather and express opinions using social media, receive product information, coupons and special offers via emails, listen and speak across multiple channels, and make a great many purchases online. According to an IBM report, most companies (76% of B2B companies) have social media presences and more than half use media sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr.
Brands are social, whether they like it or not. If they’re smart social brands, they build branding and awareness via social media, and connect and stay in touch with users through social, email, mobile, the web–multiple channels. Lots of touchpoints, lots of engagement.
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So what are the hallmarks of an effective, successful social brand?
1. Socially Engaged
Social brands engage customers to interact. They communicate via social channels, use social contests, polls, etc. They’re not just on Facebook; they use Facebook to achieve marketing goals. Ditto Twitter and other social platforms.
As social media becomes old hat and email becomes pervasive, the social brands entwine these and other channels providing an integrated brand experience and effectively speaking to customers where they want to be spoken to. Social without email is like Champagne without bubbles. (See our post on email v. social as well as one on multi-channel marketing success.)
Consistent branding across all channels provides an integrated, trusted customer experience.
Your customers don’t want to hear how great you are or what color you painted the new shop. They want benefit, like cost-savings or content — something they can use.
5. Focused on Brand Loyalty
You’ve probably heard the idea by now that customers own your brand. Giving them a voice and a place to listen (both of which happen in social media) you create more engaged users and galvanize those users, creating brand ambassadors. The result: a more active, alert brand. More people talking, more people listening, less customer drift. As Brian Solis puts it, “When people get socially involved with your brand, they [are] less tempted to stray to another competitor.”
Good social brands are social leaders and innovators and fast responders. They get there first. Maybe that means a new promotion, or trying a local social initiative, or responding faster to that customer tweet. Social brands have both social media strategy and a social media CRM plan. Being a social brand means you have social media within the top levels of marketing and leadership. (We’re not there yet. According to the IBM report, just 30% of businesses say they have strong executive sponsorship of social media).
So you’re doing loads of social media marketing. Is it working? Can you do better next time? Smart marketers figure out ways to measure social media. See our multi-channel measurement article.