Social media is still a learning curve for many brands as they transition to a new paradigm of engagement and interaction with their customer communities. What is evident is that social media is experiencing global growth on a phenomenal scale. The recently published Wave 5 of UM’s social media tracker study* shows that the proportion of internet users managing a social network profile has grown on average globally by 35% over 2 years with users in all countries surveyed using social media more.
But this fast-changing landscape means that many brands are confused about exactly what they should be doing on social sites beyond customer listening and building a community of ‘+1’s’, ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. Mistakes are often fertile breeding ground for new ideas and developments that then path the way for future success. In the UK recently, Snickers publicity campaign to showcase its product ended up being brandished a Twitter #fail after Katie Price, a celebrity known for glamour modelling, tweeted about quantitative easing and China’s GDP numbers. She later published a photo of herself holding the chocolate bar on her feed saying that she wasn’t feeling herself because she was hungry.
What’s clear from the research is that consumers do want to engage with brands even in a social context amongst friends. UM’s study shows a near tripling in the numbers of people who have become fans with brands on their social networking platform over the last year. People want to join brand communities to learn about products as well as find exclusive news and free content about them. There are local nuances to consider too. In Latin America brand followers are driven by the desire to be associated with something but in Asia they are more likely influenced by peers.
For brands this means that more than ever before content is king. The social need of customers is satisfied by high quality, locally adapted content that is relevant to the brand. Once people can identify with a brand’s messaging in their cultural context then engagement, endorsement and ultimately sales will follow.
*Wave 5 – The Socialization of Brands