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The number one reason brands fail online

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The number one reason brands fail online / Sergey Zolkin

When it comes to marketing on screen, the companies that are naïve in the social-sphere are truly exposed. Brands like Beats, Whole Foods, Nike, Patagonia, and WeWork are cleaning up while the rest struggle to get news feed cut through.

Not only do they get the most likes, but they also inspire the thought pieces, win the awards, and work themselves into offline conversations and the wider cultural picture.

According to the Becker Report, 5% of brands generate 95% of all engagement online. The remaining 95% of brands are left to slug it out for the remaining 5% of everyone’s attention. What separates these big winners, the top 5%, from the rest? Why do some brands win all the likes and love and some are left hanging?

Don’t ask people to engage – give them a reason

You can’t ask consumers to do something for you – upload their photos, tag their friends, answer a quiz – until you’ve given them good reasons to care about you. This is particularly true if your brand is currently struggling – whether you’re losing market share, trying to pivot to a new audience, or trying a new communications platform.

At Impero, we work specifically with tired brands. And, when you’re a tired brand, and you’re facing challenges in terms of declining sales and customers migrating towards other brands, you are never going to just ‘content’ your way out of it. You need to do something different, and something meaningful – and it must be strategically planned to deliver business results, not vanity metrics like views, shares, or likes.

Here are three ways to instantly improve your approach to social:

Great brands are famous for one thing, and one thing only

Never mind your six content pillars, your 17 different messages, across seven different channels. Never mind your segmented audiences or your endless programmatic tweaking.

Instead, find your single-minded purpose and exploit it. Answer the question “why would anyone want to see this?”

Take example from the meme artists – @thefatjewish, @beigecardigan, @moistbhudda. They have this down. You follow one, know exactly what you’re signing up for, and you’re delighted to see them appear in your newsfeed.

Brands should inspire consumers, not reflect them

Brands who try to get ‘down with the kids’ always fail (hey, Pepsi!).

Brands who lead consumers – Nike, Apple, Red Bull, Vans – have carved their space in culture. You know exactly what they stand for and you either buy into it or you don’t.

Be yourself, activate that fame point. Don’t try to be who what are told consumers want you to be.

Consumer needs are always more important than brand wants

This is what it all boils down to. You want people to look at your content, like you and ultimately buy you. But despite what some in our industry think, most people don’t truly care about brands, so we’ve got to work extra hard. Find something your consumers do care about, and find a role in delivering that aspect in an authentic and credible way within your area.

Dan Deeks-Osburn is strategy director at digital and social agency Impero.

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