Across industries, we have found that social media is one of the hottest trends around. Brands are realizing the power that social media garners, as well as the great returns they can achieve. Without thinking twice, they jump right in -- creating accounts on any platforms that come to mind, establish a posting quota for the intern to reach that month, and just like that, they sit back and expect the money to just start flowing in.
Brands, both big and small, continue to fall into the trap of thinking that merely having a presence on social is enough, but the truth of the matter is social media cannot be viewed as linearly as many publications have indicated, describing the "top 10 tips" or "best social media trends of the year." At the core, the question surrounding social isn't just "why or why not social?" anymore, but rather, "how are we using it?"
It comes down to engaging consumers in a social ecosystem that integrates a variety of engine and content strategies. So, how can a successful engine strategy fuel a brand's presence and offer consumer value?
One of the most basic frameworks for any social media strategy is the idea of push and pull. Brands using a push strategy will use social media as a vehicle to amplify information about the brand, whereas those using a pull strategy directly call out to consumers and initiate a call-to-action to engage with the brand. Some brands have chosen to adopt one or the other, but in reality, the two strategies should work in tandem. Using what they can gather about what exactly "pulls" their consumer base in, brands can understand what types of content to "push" and forge more meaningful relationships.
This two-way relationship establishes the consumer as a participant in the brand's makeup, and one of the main drivers of consumer consideration is the word-of-mouth buzz created by the consumer base. A key force behind a brand's success stems from the interaction and community that the brand is able to facilitate for its customers. It comes back to where the customer fits into the brand's higher calling -- the ultimate goal the brand seeks to accomplish through its business objectives. By offering consumers something they can rally together behind, something of real use and value to them, we can create more interesting and impacting experiences. The relationships that are created with the brand build into an integrated ecosystem that not only builds a more deeply rooted brand loyalty, but also helps to fuel longer lasting returns. Coupling the brand's core values with a greater consumer need, we should be looking to the customer-to-customer experience as the epicenter for brand building. Companies like Samsung, Foster Farms, and Nautica all have the potential to achieve this greater social media calling.
In early 2012, Samsung launched Samsung Nation, a social loyalty program intended to galvanize the Samsung community. The first corporate gamification model of its kind, Samsung Nation offers virtual rewards for those who utilize the Samsung site and talk about the products via social media. The concept has proven very robust and engaging, attracting more than 1.2 million users. At the core, the program aims to facilitate a Samsung consumer community. Samsung fans can rack up points and badges by looking through the Samsung website, writing reviews about Samsung products, or even by tweeting about their Samsung experience. In addition, with the rewards they accumulate, fans can compete and interact with other fans on a leaderboard and gain opportunities to win Samsung products.
From a brand perspective, Samsung sees a great opportunity in terms of gaining a better understanding of its consumer base, as well as creating a consistent stream of user-generated online media buzz. This word-of-mouth becomes an invaluable part of extending brand value to other potential users and can help garner new Samsung loyalists. However, a big question comes up when we start to think about its actual sustainability and the greater long-term return. Samsung can continue to create more badges and diversify the social media channels that users can sync their Samsung accounts to, but like many other social communities, Samsung Nation faces the challenge of trying to stay relevant to its evolving consumer base.
In this regard, Samsung misses the mark in creating profound meaning and value in the consumer experience. Consumers are incentivized with virtual points and badges to utilize the Samsung site, but are left with no perception of where their efforts actually end up. Ironically enough, Samsung Nation, as a social community, focuses immensely on the individual's rewards when it has the potential to really build those necessary customer-to-customer interactions. Samsung must understand that successful social communities need to form around a higher calling that consumers can share and relate to. The main point is that users need a bigger reason to engage, and especially for a sales-driven business like Samsung, the return from all its initiatives needs to be immediate, measurable, and somehow profit-building. Brands need to understand that merely having a presence cannot compete with today's ever-changing and oversaturated social landscape.
Samsung Nation has the potential to provide a meaningful experience for its users, whether it's through incentives for users to interact with each other, or an application that provides a necessary service for the Samsung community. However, in order to achieve this greater role, the company needs to first prioritize and define a purpose for its consumers.