Brand Ambassadors: How to Build a Brand Through Social Media
By Donetta Allen, Social & Digital Media Practice Leader, Hunter Public Relations
Consumers are showing they are willing to engage with the products, companies and brands that influence their day-to-day purchasing decisions. A survey by Lab42 found that more than 30 percent of Twitter users follow 1-5 brands on the platform, but just 10 percent don’t follow any brands. Another survey by HubSpot showed that of Facebook users who follow brands, more than 50 percent follow between 2-5 brands, with another 20 percent following between 5 to 10.
Clearly, social media is an increasingly important part of building a brand. It offers an opportunity for brands to participate in conversations about their services that consumers previously had only among themselves. When choosing to build a brand through social media, you’ll need to embrace the idea that you are entering an on-going dialogue, not a monologue, with your consumers.
It also lets you further build a personality for the brand that has been established through advertising or years of service. Known for your customer service? Utilize that when building your social media plans to connect with your customers. Brands like Comcast and JetBlue have found consumer relations success in social media as they troubleshoot consumer problems through Twitter.
Brands who embrace social media also know that ongoing communication with their core fans can turn a fan into an ambassador. These fans elect to interact with your brand, which means that paying attention to their comments, their likes and dislikes is critical.
From time to time, humor and a well-timed social media response can also turn critics into fans, which will in turn help build a brand. Recently, Smart Car smartly responded to this critical remark on Twitter: “Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it.” Smart Car took that comment, did some calculations and responded with an infographic about how much bird crap it would actually take to total a Smart Car. This response, as covered here, cleverly reminded consumers about the Smart Car’s Tridion Safety Cell, a key safety feature for the automobile.
When introducing a new brand in 2012, it would be irresponsible to not include social media in the launch plan, as consumers expect to find your brand in multiple places. For more established brands, consider pairing the launch of a social media program with a new ad campaign or public relations program. When you decide to embark on a social media program to help build your brand, whether internally or with the assistance of an agency, consider these steps to establish a social media presence:
1. Listen. The first step is to listen to your most active consumers. Spend the time to search for your brand on various social media platforms and see what these brand ambassadors are already saying about you. “Conversations among members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not,” says expert Seth Godin. “Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.”
The takeaway is to find these existing conversations and then to enhance and contribute to them as you build your brand through social media.
2. Choose a Platform. This initial listening phase will help you determine which platforms you should utilize to help build your brand through social media. While it can be tempting to start with a Facebook page since it’s the largest platform, there really is no “one size fits all” program for brands. If you’re finding that people are constantly posting pictures about your product, then a visual strategy focusing on Pinterest and Instagram might be right for your brand. If people often recommend your brand while shopping, perhaps Twitter or FourSquare are the right places for your brand. You might find that one platform is enough for your consumers, but many find that two or three platforms are helpful for creating a strong branded social media presence.
3. Create a Content Plan. While actually setting up a presence on social media sites is relatively easy, you should put some serious thought and planning into the strategy behind the content that you will be sharing on the platform. Determine the tone of voice (fun, playful, serious?), style of speaking (eloquent, txt spk, punny?) you intend to use and the visual strategy (photos, graphics?). As you outline your brand content, consider the story your brand will tell. Think visually and gather photos, videos and other suitable content for the platform.
Also, identify upcoming holidays that would be brand-appropriate to mention, as these provide an opportunity for brands to participate in general conversation or make a statement. The recent Oreo Pride cookie is a prime example. And finally, consider a few key things that consumers are looking for from brands, such as deals, contests and product information, and build some of these into your plans.
4. Share the News. Once you’ve established a presence and created a content plan, you need to let your consumer base know that you are now on social media! Tell everyone you know and ask them to help spread the news. Add social media buttons to your website. Send out a notice to your existing e-mail distribution list and consider a limited media buy on the platform to help drive awareness during launch. You’re on your way to building an engaged community that will help build your brand for the future!
Donetta Allen is a partner and social/digital media practice leader at Hunter Public Relations.
Published: July 31, 2012 By: