Saturday, February 25, 2012

How Social Media Influences Your Brand

STILL fresh in our minds is the mind-blowing news regarding Facebook’s plan to launch its stock option to the public.  It made business headlines, with Facebook hitting a record IPO price from US$75 billion to $100 billion. This remarkable achievement brought the social media industry to a different level.

But as a reader of the news, we may wonder how a simple social media network functioning to connect people is able to make those achievements. The answer is that the word “connects people” is the key to helping Facebook grow so big today. The same goes for Twitter. How can an online personal status updater becomes such a reliable source of information, especially in Indonesia?

The answer is the same with Facebook. It does succeed in “connecting people.”

But that is not enough to help explain the increasing the value of this social media. Some important groups are taking part in making Facebook, Twitter and other social media applications as big and important as they are today. They are companies and/or brand owners who are trying to connect and interact with their customers.

Brand owners are able to elevate the use of Facebook and Twitter from a mere people connector into significant communication tools that support brand owners in getting close to current and potential customers, and increasing the value of Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Due to this trend, many brand owners compete in ensuring their brand existence within social media through giving endless communication and information to people.

Going social?
It leads to a new question: must every brand establish itself in social media? Is social media the right and correct tool to engage targeted customers? Today many brand owners have a misplaced strategy for increasing brand awareness and positioning.

Many brand owners wrongly perceive that by simply being connected with social media, it is the strategy for the customer to think and see the brand as a youthful and modern brand concerned with technology. It’s not always the right strategy because not all brands fit with social media technology; others are suitable if there are proper controls and managements to ensure it is in line with the target market.

So what kinds of brand should have a social media account, and which should not?

Before we determine whether your brand is suitable or not, you have to answer some of the following questions, including what type of market do you want to cater by being connected to social media? What kind of plan or strategies do you want to implement for your brand by having social media? Do you have a certain on-going campaign or communication?

What kind of positioning do you want to achieve with the implementation of social media in the future? And does the social media have an impact on brand loyalty? Finding the answers to these basic questions is the simplest way to know initially whether you want your brand to have a social media application or not.

From all the questions, I want you as a brand owner to take a look at one point more closely, the issue of loyalty. There is considerable interesting research to answer this particular question, especially on social media such as Facebook. Research in the United States showed that 47 percent from 200 respondents say “liking” on brands in Facebook actually did not have any influence on their buying behavior.

Like it or not
With this small fact, we can say that “liking” doesn’t mean someone will certainly purchase the particular brand; perhaps they only like your brand but don’t have any plan to use it. Some cases are different, especially in Indonesia, where some brand owners believe social media is only a tool to exist in more channels and simply following trends. Such a perspective is surely not going to affect any of your brand communication activities with the end purpose of achieving brand loyalty.

There is also another type of brand that doesn’t seem to fit the social media trend, at least now. Some luxury goods brands feel that they don’t need to have any social media account to speak about their brand because they feel that they have already established their own community. Using social media is still viewed as a move that changes their brand perception to common and no longer exclusive.

In considering all the facts and influences, it is very important for a brand owner to first analyze whether social media will give the right impact for their brand. Remember that by entering the social media world, your brand has already made a connection to its existing and potential customers. In doing so, delivering a strong commitment and promise is essential to increase brand loyalty and customer retention.

Written by Galih Rangha Putra (Consultant DM IDHOLLAND) & Daniel Surya (Chairman & President Southeast Asia)

The Jakarta Post, February 25, 2012

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