How Your Brand Can Be Everywhere Online (Without Ads!)
For decades, a small handful of media channels could reach almost everyone in America. Marketing involved the creation of compelling communications, then buying enough ad space and air time to push that message home across the mainstream media. Being everywhere was more a matter of money than diversity of marketing channels. The web - and especially social media - has changed all of that. Now a brand can spend millions of dollars on a network television or national newspaper ad and only reach a portion of its target audience. Media has fragmented and the consumer has embraced the phenomenon, making the challenge of being everywhere even harder for even the most digitally savvy brands. Media has fragmented and the consumer has embraced the phenomenon, making the challenge of being everywhere even harder for even the most digitally savvy brands.
Who Can Be Everywhere on Social Media?The name Corcoran is probably most familiar to fans of the popular network TV show, Shark Tank. Barbara Corcoran is one of the stars of that runaway success, but her real estate firm, The Corcoran Group, has experienced similar levels of acclaim for the work of its social media team. Embodying the concept that the digital era has made every brand a publisher, Corcoran not only blogs, tweets, Facebooks etc, but the company has become synonymous with leaving tips on location-based services like Foursquare (example below) and Google+ Local pages. By acting as your knowledgeable guide to the city - or perhaps just an in-the-know friend who has all the best restaurant and nightlife recommendations,- Corcoran has established itself as a recognized resource for New York City neighborhoods. While not directly related to real estate sales, the link is close enough that many naturally think of the brand when it comes time to move (which in New York City could be every year, or even less). For its target audience, Corcoran has achieved the ambitious goal of being everywhere on social media without paying a premium for the privilege. In 2015, that's quite an achievement. But this is an isolated example and many other brands are still trying to judge how far they should go down this road. More fundamentally, brands must ask themselves two key questions: is this worth it and what is the expected return on investment?
The Pros and Cons of Putting Your Brand Out ThereAlthough it seems like there would be no downside to an expanded brand presence online, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. The risk – or, more accurately, the cost – of attempting to build a social media presence with both width and depth is, primarily, the time you and your team must invest. Formulating the strategy and platform profiles to create, roll out and promote is just the beginning.An entire team is often essential to maintain the content flow. Like keeping a car filled up with gas, a brand’s content tank needs to be regularly topped up to keep the engine running and maintain momentum. This doesn’t come cheap, and may not be suitable for every brand. This is especially true if your business is just dipping its toes in the wide waters of social media. Worse still is the danger of investing heavily but abandoning early due to lack of results. It takes time for digital content strategies to gain traction and those brands that don’t allow for this run the risk of pulling the plug too early. When taking the plunge in pursuit of being everywhere, it’s important to lay out realistic milestones and monitor progress towards them. Social media must of course pay its way to your bottom line, but it must be given time to do so. The reward, as Corcoran has experienced, begins with increased brand awareness and eventually an uptick in sales. People buy from those they recognize and trust. The latter requires a quality service or product, of course, but the former means that they’ll give a brand a chance and can be achieved via social media. Branding will move towards bigger and better digital initiatives as the majority of consumers take up social media. Popular existing brand assets like vanity numbers and your logo can be spread far and wide if you start early enough, but the adoption period is moving rapidly as new social networks like Instagram and Snapchat attract younger audiences. Now is the best time to get started, if your business hasn’t already, and begin to mix the best of your current brand strategies with the latest digital platforms that your customers are embracing.
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