Michelle Gautrin, Senior Social Media Strate­gist, Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing, APAC, Adobe Sys­tems @mgautrin

Image courtesy of photoraidz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week I attended a Social Media Brand­ing event in Sin­ga­pore where brands like StarHub, SingTel, Domino’s Pizza, Lenovo, Marina Bay Sands and more, talked about the ways they’re using social media to ele­vate their brand and reach cus­tomers. One con­cept really stuck with me and was the under­lin­ing theme of everyone’s pre­sen­ta­tion: Con­ver­sa­tion is King.

Social has given brands an oppor­tu­nity to lis­ten and con­nect with their cus­tomers on a deeper level. Rather than focus­ing on push­ing out con­tent, brands need to shift, and start lis­ten­ing to the con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing about them and join the dis­cus­sion with value add input. We need to start human­iz­ing our brands. No more should we focus on B2B or B2C but con­sider that all brands should engage on the basis of H2H (human to human).

The way I see it, there are 3 steps to a suc­cess­ful social media brand strat­egy. First, begin by and tap­ping into con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing about your brand; sec­ond, build on those con­ver­sa­tions; and finally, con­vert those con­ver­sa­tions into conversions.

Social must really be an ART: Authen­tic, Respon­sive, & Timely. Brands that mas­ter this art will start to see the true value social can bring to their busi­ness, and one such brand is Lenovo. Nazia Hayat from Lenovo talked about the impor­tance of human­iz­ing your brand and treat­ing fol­low­ers as equals. A lot of the time brands like to thump their fist on their chest, shout­ing and demand­ing “we are the lead­ers, fol­low us”. What they for­get is that, the ini­tial few fol­low­ers are the true lead­ers and are key to nur­tur­ing and gath­er­ing more fol­low­ers – Derek Sivers explains it beau­ti­fully in his Ted Talk, “New fol­low­ers emu­late fol­low­ers not the leader”. That’s why it is so crit­i­cal for brands to be part of con­ver­sa­tion; not just about their brands but about top­ics that are related to their brands as well.

This brings me to my sec­ond point – the impor­tance of com­mu­nity mar­ket­ing. Con­ver­sa­tions about your brand are tak­ing place whether you like it or not, so why not facil­i­tate it? It’s actu­ally scary how many peo­ple are now more likely to make a pur­chase deci­sion based on a com­plete stranger’s review! Daren Choo, AVP of Social CRM at Starhub shared that 75% of Sin­ga­pore­ans read people’s com­ments online before mak­ing a pur­chase deci­sion. Instead of focus­ing on build­ing fol­low­ers, brands should focus on build­ing a com­mu­nity; a com­mu­nity of avid fans, advo­cates and influ­encers that will help to pro­tect and pro­mote your brand.

Finally, once those con­ver­sa­tions have been cre­ated, iden­ti­fied, and exe­cuted, turn them into con­ver­sions. Domino’s Think Oven cam­paign is a great exam­ple of how an inno­v­a­tive social cam­paign can engage con­sumers and drive sales. Rose Lam, Mar­ket­ing Man­ager, APAC, of Domino’s Pizza explains how Think Oven acts as a vir­tual sug­ges­tion box, allow­ing the com­pany to engage their audi­ence, lis­ten to their cus­tomers, inter­act with them, and drive sales all at the same time. Reach­ing out and involv­ing your cus­tomers, offers a per­sonal touch that will allow them to relate to your brand on a human level and proves to them that you care.

So remem­ber to lis­ten and join in on the con­ver­sa­tion. Make sure you also human­ize your brand by cre­at­ing a brand voice that is authen­tic. And lastly, don’t be afraid to take risks – as I said before, con­ver­sa­tions are hap­pen­ing about your brand whether you like it or not, so why not join in! You could even turn those com­plain­ers into advo­cates just by giv­ing them a lit­tle extra loving.

Bo Vandenberg
Bo Vandenberg

Service, service, service..... I think you're absolutely right. Companies cannot hide their heads in the sand and hope people will like them because doubt creates distrust. Good people need to genuinely care about the best service to the customer and the faces of the company need to be compassionate and empowered. The good part for companies is that if they make the leap to allowing reactive and responsive some of their copy and social branding will actually be created by their customers. It's not more complicated than word of mouth being the best advertising. We need to hear what customers think in order reach them with campaigns and services that work and make sense. Bo