This weekend I thought about what social media meant. It’s not about the medium we use e.g. Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin. It’s about a power shift from marketers to consumers. This is a radical shift from the 1950’s when marketers conceived, built, and nurtured iconic brands.
Today, customers insist on being informed and entertained. Now clients and digital consumers co-create. Consumers contribute content and can become advocates for brands.
Social media is about people talking to one another. People make up Tribes. Think of Tribes when you think about social media. Tribes are made up of communities of enthusiasts. Within each community of enthusiasts is a potential brand advocate. This potential brand advocate can influence not only his / her tribe but other Tribes as well through spheres of influence.
We know instinctively that content spread from consumer to customer via word of mouth is more effective at driving brand preference and purchase intent than a marketer distributing similar brand content. Content is more likely to go viral if it’s placed on Facebook, Twitter by a brand advocate who shares this content with his / her tribe. A brand marketer doing the same thing on a Facebook fan page won’t be nearly as effective.
Social media relies on “Tribes of Enthusiasts” to market its brand. Brands who have Tribes that effectively tell their story well will become the new iconic brands e.g. Apple. While social media is about sharing and reciprocity it’s also about opportunism. Tribe members spread stories that eventually benefit them in some way whether it’s to look cool, feel cool, or fill an emotional need.
You can use different channels to reach out to different ‘Tribes of Enthusiasts.’ But in order for your brand to spread virally it should be relevant and relatable to its audience. It’s also important that your brand fill a need within its audience.
To have a successful social media campaign you should do the following:
1) Provide Tribes with a reason to engage with your brand.
2) Encourage Tribes to create communities.
3) Treat new Tribe members as current customers.
4) Broaden the campaign to a brand’s web site, microsite, or mobile site.
5) Integrate your digital and off-line marketing with your social media campaign.
Remember that with social media the Tribes you reach out to have high expectations for immediate resolution of both product issues and service issues. If you don’t address customer complaints quickly and effectively your customers - past, present and future will hear about them via social media.