Social Media: Brand Strategy or Marketing Channel?

An interesting view is to take is to look at how different companies use social media. Many still treat it as a channel—it’s managing the Facebook pages, LinkedIn accounts and twitter timelines. Some will think about a media buy on some properties outside of their “owned” environment. Take a second and put it on the FB page, or dial up the social properties during a product launch or a new advertising campaign.

The more progressive organizations treat social media as an inextricable part of the fabric of their organizations. It is a living and breathing part of their employees (suggestions, ideas, problem-solving); their customer engagement and their partner community.

Best buy’s CEO is constantly looking the pulse of the conversation around his brand, and their TweepleForce is renowned for their engagement, responsiveness and value exchange.

Ford launches the Fiesta through its social properties and through key influencers and bloggers to drive engagement, dialogue, scale and energy—then they integrate.

It’s about learning to listen and communicate with your audience over whatever channels you can engage them on.
People have been sociable on the web for years and social networks have existed since the days of news groups and forums. The technology and implementation is much improved but the desire to connect, follow thought leaders, be part of something and communicate remains the same.

For a brand, being sociable is hugely important as it means they understand the importance of touch points and the opportunities every one of those has for an interaction/conversation with a customer/user.

As a strategy learning to be sociable is much bigger than a brand, it needs the full involvement and commitment of the entire organization, not just a marketing department.

As a channel; you can certainly treat Facebook as a channel or Twitter but (for me) it’s more about learning to use digital as a medium and leveraging the networks that exist and that you can be involved in.

But social media certainly defy’s the typical definition of a channel.  Our standard channels are generally one way. We turn the TV on, we listen. We turn the radio on, we listen. We drive by billboards, posters and signs, we read.
But social media allows for the consumers to talk while brands listen, learn, and find opportunities to improve. Typical channels, i.e. television, are controlled, by brand, agency and/or the networks they’re aired on. Social media is in the eyes of the beholder. Both consumer and brand control the content on sites like facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. As a consumer it’s nice to feel heard. As a brand it’s key to have those immediate testimonials.

In any case, channel or strategy, you should know the ins and outs of social media – and then some. It’s the newest craze that’s not going anywhere but constantly evolving


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