Social Media Branding Strategy: “Touch Points” are a way to create strong brands

Social media is a powerful tool for creating modern, global brands. Social media gives marketers the ability to connect with customers at multiple “touch points”. This allows brands to make friends with their customers through multiple touch points and build personal relationships with them. This is how a modern brand is built. This is what social media has done for modern marketing. According to a survey conducted by The Economist, April 2009, people no longer believe advertising is important. They believe in their friends. The best way to build a brand is by building a relationship with your customers. How does this happen? This is possible by using multiple touch points. What is the best way for a marketer to use multiple touch points?

We now have a better understanding of the nature and purpose of Social Media. Social Media has created a “perfect storm” for marketers. A marketer must have scale and presence to create strong brands. A marketer must have a large number of customers to create a strong brand. They also need a place where they are able to meet those customers. This is possible with social media platforms. A quarter of the world’s population is connected to social media platforms. If Facebook were a nation, it would be the fourth-largest country in the world. Many of these platforms can be integrated with each other. According to Forrester Research analysts Ted Schadler and Josh Bernoff, five billion people share information online about products and services each year. Social media platforms offer a place for many people to connect and meet.

Platform and scale have changed the way people communicate, particularly in a global economy. Brands are created when a person talks to another person about a product or its benefits. Friends can have a conversation about brands and they are often recommended. World-class brands are built by friends recommending each other. Modern marketing has changed from a push-world in which products are produced and pushed to consumers to a pull-world in which consumers tell marketers what they want.

Social media has created more touch points–places where marketers and consumers–“friends”–engage. Modern marketing has been transformed by this. The rapid development of a brand can be achieved with new media. The Ford Fiesta, President Obama are two examples. The Fiesta was not the subject of an advertising campaign. Ford launched a social media campaign for six months. The campaign had many touch points. Ford’s campaign was not conventional advertising. Instead, it focused on posts, videos, blogs, and text. The Fiesta had 38% brand awareness within its target market at the end of the campaign. The Fiesta sold 10,000 units in the first week it was made available. This is a remarkable number for a brand new car. Ford, however, had spent millions on a conventional advertisement campaign that was spread over two years for the Fusion. The Fusion’s awareness rate was just 38% after all the expense. The case of President Obama is a good example. He was almost unknown in 2007 with little money. However, he won the 2008 Presidential election. Social media branding works. Consumers must know the brand and perceive it as different from other products. The brand must be able to add value to their lives. In order to buy the brand in this social media age, they must feel comfortable with it in the same way as they would with a friend. This was what happened with Fusion and the Obama campaign. Social media branding is all about the smart use of touch points.

Marketers must make their brand feel like a person to create a modern brand. A brand should be someone you trust and someone you enjoy spending time with. Multiple touch points are crucial. Consumers will feel more comfortable when they have more contact with brands. It is like forming a friendship with someone by branding a product. Trust is a key component of human relationships. The closer we get to someone, the more trust we have in them. Trusting someone increases our willingness to overlook their flaws. We choose our friends from a group and decide who to hang out with even if we are aware of their shortcomings. In real life, our friends have brands. These people are trustworthy and we build relationships with them. This is how brands in the social media age are created.

Two sources provide a great explanation of the trust building process and its relevance to modern marketing. The “Consumer Decision Journey” is described in The McKinsey Quarterly’s June 2009 issue. It was written by Susan Mulder, Dave Elzinger and David Court. David Edleman’s Harvard Business Review 12/10 explains how multiple touch points can be used in an article titled “Branding in the Digital Age”.

“Touch points” refer to those moments when a marketer meets with a consumer just before a purchase decision is made. This is what social media offers marketers. Social media allows you to market in real-time. A marketer can use social media to predict when a customer will make a purchase. The conversation between brand and customer has evolved from a one-way conversation (conventional media–old media) into a two-way conversation (social media).

A brand that is successful becomes a friend to a customer. A friend consumer tells a friend brand when they want to buy. The friend brand makes it as simple as possible to purchase. A brand can reach the right people at the right time and place with the right message by having constant conversations on social media platforms.

As in traditional media, brand awareness is crucial in a buyer’s final decision. Many times, consumers will search for alternatives before making a purchase decision. These first brands are three times more likely than brands not included in the initial consideration to be bought eventually. Touch points are crucial in determining whether a product is purchased and branded. Brand awareness is created by touch points. There are very few touch points in old media, which were primarily created by advertising. New media has many touch points. These touch points are created by people with great credibility, such as your family and friends. Social media touch points, such as posts, videos, blogs, and texts, are great fun. These touch points are provided by family and friends of the consumer. Consumers are influenced by new media touch points. Ford Fiesta achieved a 38% awareness rate in six months without any advertising. Advertising in old media is often considered wasteful if a consumer is not actively shopping.

This contrasts with New Media. A brand and a customer are always in touch on a social media platform. What happens when something triggers a desire to buy? These constant experiences, through multiple touch points, seal the deal. Marketers now know exactly when a consumer is ready to buy. Marketing is now happening in real-time with New Media. This represents a shift in how products are promoted, branded and purchased. Traditional advertising was the traditional way that the marketer reached consumers in old media. Consumers can now reach out to the marketer in order to build the brand. A Facebook page allows consumers to access information and to read the comments section. This gives them a better idea of the quality of a product. The “advertising,” which is from people who have used the product, comes from peers.

Now the consumer has full control. Marketers must establish a dialogue through social media platforms that are not under their control in order to build a brand and relationship. Engaging content is essential to create this conversation with consumers. People are not interested in having conversations with people who make them feel drained or add little to their lives. A modern brand will only be built if it is engaging, two-way content.

 

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