Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Social Media Marketing I: Quick & Compelling Reasons for Branding in Social Media

Why a post on social media marketing?
There are millions of articles on the importance of marketing on social media. I read plenty of them last summer, when I developed the social media strategy for a couple of consumer brands.  During my research I always felt it’d be useful to capture the importance of social media for branders in a quick and compelling post.  So, here is why social media is important for branders:

Because your customers are in social media
According to an eMarketer study, more than 164 million people in US have social media profile[1]. To put the number in context, the total circulation of top 100 newspapers in US is 5.34 million[2]. Even assuming a single copy of newspaper is read by 5 persons, that takes the combined reach of top 100 newspapers to 27 million, which is only 16% of the US people in social media.

Because your customers want to promote your brand in social media
In social media people are talking brands. According to a study by ExactTarget[3], 39% people follow a brand just to let their friends know of their support to the brand!  Now, that is a lot of free goodwill! There are customers who are ready to promote you.  
Let me address one common misconception here. Many branders think people only promote cool brands in social media. Nothing can be farther from truth. Success on social media does not depend on a cool brand, but on a cool strategy. How else can you one explain the successful campaign of Duct tape (an adhesive tape, hardly a cool brand or product) in Facebook, where they acquired more than three and half million followers! In subsequent posts, we will see several other success stories of regular brands.

These customer driven promotions in social media influence further purchases
You may be saying, "OK! I got it. There is a lot of customers. Plenty of them even ready to be my advocate. But tell me, all these chatter, reviews, opinions, do they really bring the money in?"
A thumping YES! People trust online opinions as much as newspaper editorials.  According to a Nielsen company study[4], 70% of the responders trust anonymous online reviews (as against 69% for editorials and 33% for online banner ads). You know, few brands will ever be on the editorial of a newspaper for a positive reason! It looks like that this trust sways purchasing decision. Bazaarvoice has compiled useful stats on social media impact, where we see that 74% consumers use social network for a purchasing decision[5].
Social media presents an unforeseen opportunity to marketers to use every satisfied customer as a brand promoter. In subsequent posts in this series, I will address strategies to leverage this opportunity and case studies from regular brands, who have been successful.




  1. Another great blog. I have two requests:
    a) Can you please pass details around the Duct Tape story - even I am of this belief that people follow 'cool' things on social media, something on which they can brag on such as Nike or Hugo Boss

    b) I am not sure if I am reading the last para correctly. Views and opinions on some forum or discussions boards - why would these forums and boards drive me to an social media presence? I may not have a social presence and still forums and boards can have praises for me and my website may be flooded with sales.


  2. Thanks Rajat!

    A) "Cool" brands always have advantage in Social media. But that does not mean regular brands will lose out. That takes an ingenious effort. In the second post of the series I will post case studies from regular CPG brands, who succesfully managed social media. That brings me to your second question.

    B) Forums and boards will talk about a regular brand, only if that brand does something worth talking about. Now social media strategy's goal is to create and influence this chatter in that virtual world. You are right, a company can chose to influence that conversation without itself being present there.But it is being increasingly difficult for regular CPG brands to influence their customers without being at a place where the customers prefer to talk.

    Since you brought this topic, so in my case study blog, I will include one such example of a social media initiative which was extremely successful at a stand alone place- but now losing out due to customers' reluctance to visit stand alone websites.