Observations on brands in social media

I have only a few minutes to talk about this interesting read on social media and branding on Fast Company, so here are some observations:

Dunkin’ Donuts: People trust other real people and connect with them more than they do to talking animals or celebrities. And unless you’re trying to set up your brand as the Rolex of your industry (the superior product differentiation strategy), it may not make sense to say how superior your product is – show people, don’t tell them.

Clinique: I agree with the observation on Clinique’s “how-to” videos being more socially relevant than Axe’s frat-house humor. There’s a good reason “how-to” books are consistently big sellers: Consumers are looking for useful information on “how to” do many things. Take a look at your product or service and ask yourself what sort of “how-to” tutorial you can offer to build value to your audience.

Gimmicks: There may be a time and a place for gimmicks, but they just are not effective in the long-term. Find creative ways to play up the unique features of your product – fresh, never-frozen burger patties are a great selling point for a burger chain because of the taste and quality factors (ask Five Guys Burgers and Fries execs why their burgers outperformed McDonald’s and other, larger chains in a recent survey).

Finally, the article makes a good point. Social networking isn’t for everyone (Gillette’s campaign on shaving the “nether region” sends chills down my spine). Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.


E-mail marketing is so passe’

If you’re not conducting your marketing campaign via a social network site, you’re behind the times, report Nielsen and Direct Marketing.

The full report is here.

The time that consumers are using e-mail while online has dropped 28 percent, Nielsen says. It’s now the third most popular online activity, behind social networking and gaming.

An Advertising Age report also cites a Nielsen study on Facebook ads. The study looked at 14 brands and found an increase in ad recall and purchase intent when homepage ads mentioned users’ friends who became fans of the brand in the ad. The impact was even larger when the “like” showed up in a user’s news feed, in a method called organic social advocacy.

The impact on awareness and recall is even more pronounced when a home-page ad coincides with what Facebook and Nielsen term “organic” social advocacy, i.e. an item in a user’s news feed indicating a friend has become a fan of a brand.

Does this mean your company needs to rush out and create a Facebook page? No. A social network campaign should be as well planned as any other marketing campaign. Do your homework and decide on your goal, audience, and other factors. And then plant your flag on the social network sites.

Mum’s the word

The rise of social networking has led to an explosion of people sharing details from what they had for dinner to grievances at work to spats with lovers.

I cringe when I read some of the postings from my social networking contacts. I have mixed feelings about social networking sites — they are a necessary tool for someone in the news, marketing and other publicity industries because so many people use them. It’s like an arms race to keep up with what the competition is doing online. But I’m a reserved person by nature, and sharing details of my life goes against my inclination.

Sharing certain information on the Internet is not only unsafe but bad professionally. You’re upset over some issue at work? I understand how you feel. I’ve faced my share of frustrating situations at work. But I would urge you to think twice before sharing that information. It’s unprofessional to air your workplace grievances to those outside the company. You can harm both your current job and your ability to find a job in the future. Businesses scan such sites to learn what people are saying about them and to study people who apply for a job. Perhaps restricting who can view your profile will help against a basic search, but what about the people already on your friend list? They can and possibly will talk to other people. It’s like keeping a secret — once you tell one person, it’s no longer a secret.

Venting can be good for a person’s emotional health. If you’re unable to share your frustrations with a friend, I urge you to write your thoughts in a journal (the old-fashion way, in a book) or in a private blog that you allow no one else to view, not even your close friends.

Social networking is a good tool for business promotion and keeping up with the general happenings in your friends’ and relatives’ lives. There are plenty of personal observations that a person can safely share with others. But some issues should be kept to a private discussion with a select group of confidants. Doing this shows you have good emotional intelligence.

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