Can Your Brand Thrive WITHOUT Online Social Media?

Anthony Miyazaki. Social Media Question

Can Your Brand Thrive WITHOUT Online Social Media?

We’ve heard it from virtually every e-marketer out there: You MUST have a firm online social media element as a key part of your strategic marketing plan!

But is it true? Can your brand survive, or even thrive, without online social media?

The question requires us to consider the benefits of online social media (or social networking).

What can online social media do better than general offline marketing?

Benefits of Online Social Media

According to Jordan Julien at Social Media Today, online social media helps brands communicate with their audiences in the following five ways (see his article for nifty illustrations of each):

  1. Direct Communication – that classic one-way message straight to your audience.
  2. Communications Catalyst – facilitating communication between customers.
  3. Cooperative Communication – proactive dynamic participation with an audience.
  4. Participatory Definition – letting audiences participate in making or remaking brands.
  5. Brand Embodiment – an extreme brand loyalty that prompts unsolicited brand referrals.

Let me add some additional benefits of online social media for brands:

  • Megaconnect via multiple social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  • Involve “fans” and make them customers – they don’t have to buy from you to promote you.
  • Respond to suggestions/complaints/observations with at least some degree of personalization.
  • Allow top management to “connect” – to both employees and to customers.
  • Allow employees to “connect” – they’re going to do it (blog and surf at work) anyway, why not make it an official part of the job description?
  • Resolve PR problems quickly, but make PR achievements last and last – keep the good discussion going on and on and on and . . . .
  • Monitor who’s monitor your brand – analytics, analytics, analytics!

Problems with Online Social Media

Of course, then there are those potential problems with “going social” such as:

  • Having enough customer support to cover your new interactive fan base. As mentioned by Scott Meldrum in “The 4 Cs of Scaling Social Media,” “Customer problems are bad enough. Unaddressed customer problems can be a nightmare for your brand, especially in a medium that spawns the level of public interaction that social does.”
  • Having something new to say – all the time. Social networking requires updated communication on a regular basis. Your brand’s communication can’t take a two-week vacation.
  • Being flexible in your communication efforts. It’s no longer one-way promotion from the advertising department. You’re having conversations now.
  • New content, good content, relevant content. More communication means more to say, and in ways that continue to please your customers and potential customers. You’ll need to give them something of value, whether it’s information, education, entertainment, discounts, special offers, or just the chance to participate.
  • Understanding and using the analytic tools available with online social media. It’s not enough to have a few cool looking graphs and tables. You need to be able to understand and use them to make your marketing work.

Is Online Social Media Necessary for Brand Success?

So there are pros, there are cons. What do you think? Is online social media crucial? Or is it just another way to spend money unnecessarily?

Be sensible.
                                                                 Anthony Miyazaki

P.S. If you write a related entry on your blog, be sure to reference it in a comment below.

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Sources:

A Framework for Branding Through Social Media
http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/121581

Presenting: 10 of the Smartest Big Brands in Social Media
http://mashable.com/2009/02/06/social-media-smartest-brands/

21 Rules for Social Media Engagement
http://mashable.com/2010/05/18/rules-social-media-engagment/

The 4 Cs of Scaling Social Media
http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/26145.asp

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