I remember Sesame Street running a segment called ‘One of These Things Is Not Like the Other’ that showed several objects and gave me the opportunity identify which object didn’t belong (not to brag, but I was pretty good). Today, brands are in the same situation when it comes to social media.
We Don’t Belong.
The inherent purpose of social media is to provide technology that allows people to stay connected and in communication with more people at a higher rate than they could in the past. It’s people connecting with people. Unfortunately, brands don’t fit well into that equation.
Traditional media grew up with advertising. In fact, it grew up because of advertising. Media was the means to the end that was advertising. Social media grew up without advertising, but for several reasons (e.g., revenue models, brands going where consumers go, etc.) marketers are forcing the square pegs that are their brands into the round hole that is social media.
Brands are virsues invading the social space. 1/3 of social media users say that ads on social networking sites are more annoying than other online ads, according to Nielsen. Needless to say, brands are the kid no one wants to sit by in the lunchroom.
Marketers should make it a goal to prove themselves matter to social media users everyday. Social media users reject brands, and we have a couple options. We can keep on hitting them with messages and maxing out on impressions, or we get them to embrace us by being relevant and delivering utility and value.
Relevance starts with a fundamental understanding of the customer. Who they are, what they care about and the role brands play in their lives. That understanding provides us with what we need to know to make them care.
Utility and value are pretty new for advertisers who used to focus on delivering a message regarding a product or service’s utility and value. Now, our messages need to have that utility and value as well.
In 2012, we saw some great examples of brands proving themselves and being welcomed by consumers on social media. Red Bull Stratos created a world event that entertained, enthralled and sparked the imagination of the world through valuable content. Sharpie invited consumers to be their content creators and sharing their art on Facebook.
Brands that are relevant and providing value aren’t following a formula. They take a step back to understand their consumers and identify where their brand can intersect with a compelling message that’s just as valuable as the product or service it’s selling.