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Don’t buy the ‘branded communities’ lie; think consumers and grow your brand


By Michael Scantlebury, Creative director

April 25, 2016 | 5 min read

The vast majority of brands can’t and shouldn’t worry about growing communities online. In my opinion, it’s a waste of time, money and effort. Platforms’ control over newsfeeds is a factor in the death of most branded communities, but the truth is these communities for 99% of brands never really existed at scale in the first place. There’s just not enough people that want to devote that much time of their busy day towards building or participating in branded communities.

Why brands don’t grow into bigger communities

In a nutshell, people don’t care. People care about themselves, not about their brands. I care about my 3 year old son, my wife, my family, my dog, my mortgage, my business, my work, my friends. I care about the issues I hold dear to me, about the things that matter. Like the vast majority of people, that doesn’t include the growth of a brand. If digital and social has taught us one thing; it’s that people don’t care as much as we assumed they do about brands.

Forget communities, think consumers and grow your brand

So if not branded communities, what does social offer us? Access. Social offers us access to consumers. Millions of them. All sliced and diced so we can, like never before, target them with absolute precision. We know a lot about people, and often overlooked, we know what they’re doing when they see our stuff- they’re checking Facebook, in the morning, probably in bed, or they’re on Instagram in an exotic place, probably on holiday.

It also offers us fast data. For telling us what is resonating with consumers and what isn’t almost instantly. Most interestingly, for the first time in mass media, social platforms offer us, with absolute precision, to re-target. That is why we believe you should forget about communities and think consumers. Within social you can find your target market, put your messages in front of them at the right time, the right frequency and turn them into new consumers. That’s how brands grow.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should: don’t over target

Precision is a beautiful thing; you just need to make sure your target is the right one. And the tools today are outstanding at finding the ‘right ones’. But here’s the paradigm: if your marketing has been successful so far, and your brand is already well established, then chances are your bulls-eye target market is probably already buying your product. So targeting your current consumers may be less valuable than finding news ones. Always consider your entire possible consumption pool in each campaign. There may be low hanging fruit out there that just need a nudge.

Overly targeted ads reach specific people. Traditional ads build brands by exposing people to products they didn’t even know they wanted. Remember when you started to want an iPod for the first time? It was probably sometime between when you had never heard of an iPod and the white earbud dancing advert. The truth is, the bigger you get, the more different people buy your product. The bigger you get, the more you’ll need to find consumers who don’t match your bulls-eye pen portrait.

How to reach and engage consumers in social: entertain don’t advertise

The question now is, how do we get to them, how do we communicate them and how do we land our messages with them to enable these wise and wonderful people from all over the world to think about us when they are going to purchase?

We can’t advertise to them, that doesn’t work. Ad blocking software is new and now has scale. However, before we had the plug ins to block ads, we had in-built ad-blockers in all of us. However, everyone likes to be entertained. They love entertaining content and interactions. They love to watch, share and be part of something. That something is just not advertising online. Great, compelling, interesting, educating, entertaining, novel, deep, funny, sad, awe inspiring content cuts through every time.

Use content via social to build fame and glory for your brand

Famous brands- those you have heard of or are familiar with get purchased more because they are safer and easier choices to make. Humans love choice, but hate decisions. Finding ‘the one you know’ on the shelf is a solution. Brands sell more because they make decisions easier when they most matter.

Glorious brands are more appealing. They are more likeable, more desirable to you personally. They’re aspirational. They share your values. They have your same sense of self. They outwardly perpetuate the same ideas about what is nice, good, sexy and high quality.

Great, enthralling, interesting content or social campaigns will make your brand more glorious to consumers. Use social media and it’s amazing re-targeting potential to put your glorious content in front of the right people more often to make your brand more famous.

Michael Scantlebury is the founder of Impero.


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