It may seem counter-intuitive but major shifts in both technology and consumer behavior have dramatically changed the dynamics that decide what advertising succeeds in today’s social business marketplace. For decades, traditional media like television, print, and radio have been broadcast channels that engaged in a one-way monologue with their customers telling them what to think, do, or buy. And with no alternative, consumers were largely content.
With the arrival of social media, citizens and consumers around the world have been able to talk back to institutions and brands as evidenced by the Arab Spring Revolutions, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and almost every major brand marketing today including the President of the United States during the recent election, Lady Gaga with her ‘Little Monsters’ social network in the entertainment world, and spectacular demonstrations of consumer/brand engagement like Felix Baumgartner’s leap from space for Red Bull.
As a result, marketers have woken up to the idea that they need to become more social and to demonstrate how they will add value to the lives of their customers. This is more than anecdotal opinion. Major research papers from Edelman, Havas Media, and Cone Inc. revealing that consumers want brands to be more socially responsible and they are willing to work with brands to help achieve their stated goals.
As a result, whether you are a solo-preneur, small business owner or Fortune 500 brand, the most effective way for you to leverage social media is to frame your messaging in a way that serves the interests of your customer community rather than yourself alone.
Ever since the global economic meltdown in 2008, media savvy consumers are very distrustful of brands that have demonstrated a profit for profit’s sake approach and are voting with their dollars to reward those brands that serve the greater good as well as their own bottom line.
That is why you see the major brands today reframing their marketing around their purpose in order to make themselves meaningful to their customer’s lives. Consider the marketing strategies of some of the top brands in the world including Coca-Cola’s ‘Open Happiness,’, Starbuck’s ‘Shared Planet,’, and IBM’s ‘Smarter Planet.’ Each is demonstrating their commitment to the greater good in order to build their business. So if you are seeking to be a profitable brand in today’s hyper- connected marketplace you must position your marketing around the value you bring to customer’s life.
As a result, authentically committing to the well-being of your customers and framing your marketing around that is the most selfish thing a marketer can do because that is what customers reward through loyalty, goodwill and profits. What’s more, by doing this you company and its culture will benefit form the fulfillment that brings and enjoy the tangible and intangible benefits of becoming an effective social brand.
What d you think is the greatest obstacle to brands acting and marketing in this way? Is it leadership, shareholders and pressure to deliver short term profits?
Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.