One of the best ways to look at your marketing is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. It can be hard to step away from the passion you invest into running your own business, but to get a clear-eyed perspective take a look at the brands you follow on social media and ask yourself what you get out of that relationship.
Marketing expert, Todd Wasserman, says that your fandom is likely to be based on one of three attributes.
You’re either connecting with a personal interest or passion. Being entertained by the brand’s ‘personality’. Or, you’re getting information that you can use.
These strategies are used by massive corporations that spend megabucks on their marketing and branding strategies and there is no reason why small businesses can’t follow their lead.
These three approaches can be mixed and matched, but according to Caitlin Franke of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, finding which suits your business and focussing on that strength is the best strategy.
Here are some huge brands that successfully follow one of these marketing paths. All these examples are taken from America, but take a look at the social media strategies of some British brands and see where they fit and what you can take from their experience.
Three successful ‘passion brands’ are Red Bull, Nike and Whole Foods, the upmarket, health food superstores.
Nike is a natural fit for this. Many - although anyone who’s seen how sports brands have expanded into everyday fashion will know it’s not all – of their customers are buying their products to indulge in their own athletic interests. They’re naturally interested in sporting achievement and want to emulate their heroes. The Nike social media message makes this celebration of achievement its central message.
Red Bull are one-step removed from the actual sporting action, but make action sports the focus of their social media marketing. It’s consistent too, their sponsorships – from Formula 1 to the Red Bull Rampage mountain bike race – tend to emphasise dangerous, adrenaline-soaked sports and their Facebook cover image is of a snowboarder not someone sucking on a can of their drink.
Whole Foods know that the people who are willing to spend on their high-end products must have a passion for food. To match that, they focus almost all of their social media marketing on providing recipes their customers can use to get the best out of the expensive ingredients their bags are full of.
Two examples of the ‘personality brand’ are found in much unhealthier territories. Oreo cookies and Skittles would be pushing their luck if they tried to pull in extreme sports fans.
However, they can successfully give their products a friendly, engaging personality. You can see the same thing in the way M and Ms are marketed as living, cute, funny individuals.
Both these brands try to make their followers laugh. Oreo with a long-running set of visual puns and Skittles with some clever wordplay, for example: “The frenemy of my frenemy is my enefriend”. If they hit enough funny bones then their name will be shared and retweeted right round the social web.
Informative, or ‘transparent brands’ don’t have time for such artifice, instead they provide useful content on what they do. It’s a common approach for technological companies – Apple being, perhaps, the exception that proves the rule.
IBM runs 32,000 blogs from its staff, providing useful technical knowledge about their own products and the tech sector in general. Motor manufacturers and financial brands also tend to follow this straight-faced approach – no-one wants to buy a car or some insurance from a bunch of clowns.
As the social media world gets ever more diverse and challenging for businesses – are you signed up on Pinterest and Instagram yet? – then having a clearly defined strategy that can operate across all platforms is even more valuable.
At Toolkit, we recognise that some businesses need a little help to get started on social media and to learn how to get the best out of it. Ask about our social media set up services, which will give you a professional-looking, easy-to-use means of reaching thousands of potential customers at a great value cost.
Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, website designers based in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.