We don’t talk about brands online — so what are we talking about?

An interesting post from over at Memeburn. looks at how we talk about brands on social media.

Firstly, we generally still discover brands offline rather than online.

In a US survey by eMarketer, 30.1% of respondents said that they have heard about new brands, products and services from these offline sources, as opposed to the 6.5% who had first heard about them via their social media platforms.

This points to the fact that offline brand discovery is still a very trusted way to engage with new products and services. Generally speaking, humans still like hearing first-hand accounts of people who we know well in person and whom we can trust — this accounts for the large percentage of word of mouth referrals.

The offline media percentage shows that this form of marketing is far from dead. Brands are having to be far smarter with how and where they position their ads to ensure that they are cutting through the clutter of all the other offline advertisers. Arguably the best offline ads are the ones that encourage their audience to move to an online platform and further engage and interact with the brand, product or service.

Second, when we do engage with brands online, we often don’t directly talk about the brand itself, but rather the experience:

According to the same eMarketer survey; 57.8% of the US respondents said that they have never mentioned a brand in their Facebook status or in a tweet; while a far smaller section (25.3%) said that they have mentioned brands in only a positive light, as opposed to 0.5% saying that they have only ever mentioned a brand negatively.

When we look at some of the major brands online, the ones who do have a large social media following, do not necessarily mention the brand directly. It’s more about experiences associated with the brand.

For example, looking at the Coca Cola Facebook page; the top 25 posts had only a few mentions of the brand’s name. Most were referring to an experience around the brand.

Which leads to the real power in social media for brands – experiences.

This is where the real power lies and it is something that a few major brands are beginning to pick up on. The power of your brand online is in tackling people’s experiences. Products and services are a commodity — in theory anyone can do what you do — it is the experience that is the differentiator.

Finally, some recommendations:

There are a few things that brands need to keep top of mind when engaging with social:

  1. Keep the experience top of mind — your audience is not as engaged with your brand as you are — they are far more interested in the experience they will have with it.
  2. Find the social influencers within your specific industry and ensure that you are well positioned to “use” them to the benefit of your brand.
  3. Don’t try and sell.
  4. Engage in conversations that are already happening in your industry or sector. Don’t always think that you have to start a conversation. Some of the best brand interaction can come from a conversation you didn’t start.
  5. Don’t forget about LinkedIn. The groups on LinkedIn are excellent sources of information and can act as gateways to other social networks where your audience is conversing. This is arguably a real B2B action point but, depending on your market, you can still find your target audience here!

For the full post, click here

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