10 May

#Whatisit

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Posted by
Nomonde Gama, Martmeri Roos at 04:00

Social media:  #whatisit?

There are a variety of definitions - some 'techies' define it as: "a set of technologies which make it possible for two or more parties to exchange information freely and easily" or "a web of authentic, real time conversation, thought, opinion and influence, in a digital space we can't see or touch".

But why do people use social media, and what does this mean for brands?

Performance of identity and the need to belong

The idea behind social media is not new - we just gave it a name and enabled the norm to manifest itself  through technology. Dating back in history, human beings, whether introverted or extroverted, have always felt the need to be validated, affirmed or to present an expression of self - Maslow proposed it as far back as 1943. Some studies explore the relationship between social media and the psychological well-being (cognitive judgments of the self) of the individual. Most find that an individual's social capital has a positive influence on their psychological well-being. The opposite is also true.  So in essence, both groups' motivation ends up coming out of the need to perform identity and to belong to something greater than they are.

Authenticity and relevance stay #winning

The true beauty of this realm lies in its ability to tell authentic, real stories that come from market conversations occurring in their most genuine form. We see a shift in the consumer that moves them from being just tech-savvy to a total reliance on this web of conversations. This reliance comes from the need to constantly satisfy the new consumer's "infolust".

Consumers have this burning desire for relevant information NOW, to the extent that some debate surrounds the idea that "social" could be replacing "search". This perpetuates the idea that information on social media platforms is richer and more meaningful in terms of relevance to individual markets. What's also key to note is that information to do with brands and topical opinion issues that come from a real place adds a level of trust and approval of those brands.

#Whatisit for Brands?

  • Boldness is greatness
    • In order to reach the reader in an engaging way, one needs to be bold, fresh and quirky.
    • A great example would be the "CloseTheTap" twitter campaign from FLOW (For Love Of Water)
  • Create a tangible benefit
    • Participants in social media appreciate the tangible benefit they can get from their engagement with a brand
    • Another great example would be the Col'Cacchio's pizza twitter campign whereby customers were encouraged to tweet about the brand in order to receive a discount.  #PriceSlice
  • Belonging is the name of the game
    • When your markets make a move, move with them. Respond to them and  acknowledge them. Keep the conversation flowing. Create a sense of belonging.
    • FNB does this well with RB Jacobs persona on social networks whose sole purpose is to monitor Twitter customer interactions - he engages with them by responding immediately, thereby continuing with the relationship and making them want to belong to FNB @rbjacobs
  • Pin it to win it
    • Be authentic and relevant to your customers' wants and needs. Get to know the customer and respond to them on their chosen platforms.
    • The Kotex Pinterest campaign is a great example of how a brand can get to know their market by exploring what certain women want from their Pinterest profiles and then delivering these to their doorsteps.

Let's not be overwhelmed by this social media phenomenon, but rather embrace it. If marketers can tap into these human truths behind social media behaviour, they can build brands that truly reach the hearts of their markets.

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