Five top tips for brands using social media

Group director of social marketing and online strategy for Lucre Jono Marcus explains his top five tips for brands using social media.

1. Give you audience what they want, not what you wish they wanted

For a social media campaign to really engage fans it must bring something to their lives that they wouldn’t otherwise easily be able to access (doesn’t have to be expensive). For example, getting rid of distressed inventory (eg. old model of mobile phones) through social media is not in itself something that will generate excitement amongst fans. However, the chance to create a fresh cover for an old mobile phone, that will then be seen as product placement in a movie out soon, may create excitement.

Also actually asking a brand community what they want is pretty crucial- done within a clear framework- to avoid pedestrianism. Witness for example the Skittles Tree where Skittles’ Facebook fans chose for the brand to create this unique Willy Wonka-style installation.

2. Leave gaps in the process

Involving your fans in what you do, in a way that does not make their lives more difficult, can create real interest and loyalty. A good example, is the award-winning Prince’s Rainforest Campaign where a film was created with celebs, alongside an animated frog, appealing to save the rainforests. PRP created a widget and section on their site that allowed visitors to create their own videos, inserting themselves in between the edits of the celebs and overlaying the animated Frog. By leaving gaps in the process, fans jumped on board and created for themselves truly pass-on-able and personal branded content.

3. Do what you say you are going to do

Brands can’t and musn’t wing it in the Web 2.0 age. For example, If you say you are going to have an update of a phone model to your UK fanbase by a set date, you need to have it with them on that date or face the social media backlash. If you can’t stick to your word be transparent and honest about why not. Brands must learn how to be humble in the digital age, because the web often seems to see and hear everything. Recently IKEA launched their 2010 UK Catalogue iPhone App, it was very basic, but IKEA were honest about their desire to improve it over a three month period based on fan feedback. Three months later IKEA had made the three most common requests presented by fans for improving the app and redelivered it to them. What IKEA did was simple, but the principle that they saw through, created real brand affinity and trust.

4. Think long-term

Brands that are most successfully harnessing the power of social media take a strategic rather than tactical approach. They do what restructuring is required to make online at the heart of their strategy not just another consideration. Successful use of social media is about building relationships with fans online and developing communities in the long-term. Brands who are going to dip in and out of social media need to think very carefully why they are there at all, as a relationships built up only to be dropped are a waste of time and money.

5. Evaluation

What’s the point of investing time and money into online and social media engagement if you are not going to place serious weight on the results or develop learnings. If you cannot make the investment as a brand manager or CEO internally in paid for measurement tools then choose an agency that has these tools. If paid for tools are not an option any combination of free ones can also allow for thorough evaluation of social media work. Any social media strategy should relate to specific business aims.

Marcus joined the Leeds and London PR agency from Cake where he was head of digital communications working with brands such as IKEA, Unlever and Motorola.

Marcus is now heading up Lucre Social, Lucre’s previously nascent digital arm and to mark this he will host a panel debate on 14 July, on the topic of social media as an avenue for retail, featuring big names from Unilever, IKEA, Yahoo! Europe and FanShake.

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