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How forward is your brand's social life?

As marketing professionals you know by now that your brand has to have an active social life. After all, consumers are certainly investing a lot of their time in the social space. According to research conducted by comScore in 2011, social networking accounted for 16.6% of all online minutes and of that Facebook snagged a staggering 14.6%. That said, this article is not to convince you of the importance of ensuring your brand joins the conversation, but to give you some tools on how to ensure you push your brand forward in the social space.
How forward is your brand's social life?
1. Have a strategy

A lot has been written on the importance of developing a social media strategy for your brand, so without belabouring the point, at Gullan&Gullan we ensure that the following five essential pillars are covered in any social media strategy, namely:
  • Setting objectives
  • Defining who the social media community managers are
  • Moderation policy
  • Social media guidelines
  • Content strategy
It's not enough to build a wonderful looking Facebook page with cool iFrames and tabs with an informative timeline, you also have to have a plan for content after that, or your brand pages will disappear into the myriad of defunct, underperforming pages already in the social ecosphere.

2. Stay true to your brand voice

Remember that as your brand has a presence in the various social spaces it must remain true to itself. For example, your brand can make use of an education platform on Linked-In, an entertainment platform on YouTube and a lifestyle platform on Facebook, but the important thing is that the tone of the conversation and content is determined by your brand voice and not influenced by the channels.

3. Measuring your brand's social impact

Measuring your brand's activities in the social space is easy - likes, comments, views, shares, engagement is easy to source. The hard part is determining the success of your social activities in terms of ROI. There are no established benchmarks for the value of fan interaction. However it is important to note that the prevailing opinion is that quality of fan engagement is more valuable than quantity of fans. The current belief amongst some marketing professionals is that an increase in awareness does equate to success in the social space.

4. Social crisis plan of action

Unfortunately, with your brand being in the public domain you no longer keep it safely protected in a glass case behind your brand CI and brand plan. And something, somewhere along the line is going to go awry - and it's going to happen fast. Fear not, this does not have to be a problem as long as you have a social crisis plan in place with rules and response protocols clearly defined. A plan will ensure that problems don't spread like wildfire. More importantly, though is to ensure that every team member who interacts with social platforms is working from the same plan, and that you clearly define who will be responsible for these types of responses and in what timeframe.

5. Pay for social success

The social space has become extremely competitive and brands can no longer gain enough share of voice just by being early adopters or consistent in their activities. For this reason its important to add some social media ads into the mix. Some suggestions include:
  • Targeted display ads on Facebook
  • Promoted tweets on Twitter
  • Adwords with TrueView ads on YouTube
6. Select your channels carefully

Not all social media channels were created equally and not all will be relevant for your brand. Here is a list of the key social spaces you should consider for your brand:
  • Facebook - not the first, but definitely the big-daddy in the social world, dominating with 16% of all internet page views. Offers wonderful flexibility with timeline, post "pinning", admin panel, optimised news feed as well as excellent tracking tools.
  • Twitter - no social channel encourages you to get to the point more and allows as much brand-to-consumer interaction. With hashtags you can enhance the SEO of your tweets, but don't go overboard with too much brand content.
  • Google+ - Even though it hasn't caught on to Facebook's extent, it's still Google and should probably not be ignored. Keep in mind that it integrates easily with other Google properties, such as YouTube and Google Maps. But the jury is out as to whether Google+ is going to catch on or not.
  • Pinterest - The old adage, "A picture paints a thousand words" is proving to be true with the massive ascent of Pinterest in the social scene. Pinterest is proving that Web3 is definitely heading towards a visual age. As of 2012 Pinterest had 11.7 million active users--with an emphasis on "active". And this after launching in 2010. The cool thing about this property is if you have a richly visual brand you can attach links back to your website with the images you pin.
  • YouTube - With four billion videos viewed each day, 800 million unique visitors per month, need I say more? If your brand has a rich educational or entertainment positioning then a branded YouTube page should be in the mix. Remember that you can't just upload and ignore, you need to monitor comments and stay in the conversation. And be sure to drive traffic to your videos, or they will get lost in cyberspace.
  • Foursquare ­ Hasn't really become hot in South Africa, but does have some benefits for brands targeting early adopters. Also the site allows brands to build apps really easily so you can create coupons and competitions smartly. The only challenge is growing your community.
Social media is growing up and it's doing so fast. So make sure you stay front-of-wave in terms of your strategy, content and monitoring and paid-for support. And if you don't have the resources in-house, talk to an agency that specialises in Social media community management. That way your investment will not be shotgun and you'll get an ROI in this important, yet highly competitive space.

12 Jun 2012 11:34


About the author

Desirée Gullan is the Creative Director of Gullan&Gullan Advertising (Pty) Ltd. Gullan&Gullan's propriety brand-centric™ methodology forms the basis of every communication service ensuring that brand equity is enhanced through congruent, consistent expression at every touch point from above- and below-the-line, online, social and all brand experiences. Visit www.gullanandgullan.com.