Three years ago, the promise of what a comprehensive social media campaign -- one that's proactive rather than reactive -- could do for marketing campaigns often fell on deaf ears. As the person who founded the social media practice at my current agency in 2008, I heard my share of, "We've got it covered, thanks." Many companies, especially those with well-known brands or complex products such as tech and video games, had been running online customer service, user forums, or discussion boards for years. As far as they were concerned, their online reps and moderators were covering their so-called "social media needs" just fine.
Oh, how far we've come. Behemoths such as Ford, Doritos, Oreo, JetBlue, Pepsi, Comcast, and Dell -- the list goes on -- have paved the way with how much social media can elevate a brand and remain "always on" for consumers. They've had big budgets and big agencies backing them up. But they've built the essential building blocks to a comprehensive social marketing program that can apply to brands large and small.
Companies are finally recognizing that, at its root and as a marketing communication strategy, social is about authenticity and relevance. These two pieces of the social media puzzle are the answer to what "always on" means. And, importantly, now there are brands demonstrating that this approach is feasible for products and budgets in categories well outside of major global brands.
When it comes to rivaling the biggest brands in social media, the brands in this article stand out. In highlighting them in this article, we'll start with their Facebook community size. (There are a lot of social networks, but Facebook still exemplifies the traction brands are able to get on them.) From there, we'll look at their People Talking About This (PTAT) scores (in terms of the number of unique community members who have taken an action with the page), the brands' response rates (in terms of the percentage of comments they've taken the time to engage with), as well as how quickly they respond. As you'll see, you don't need Coca-Cola-sized marketing dollars to be "always on" in social media.