Getting consumers to notice your brand on social media can feel a bit like being back in elementary school, waving your hands wildly to get attention, with no guarantee that you will get the chance to share what you know.
The sheer volume of digital content available to consumers is mindboggling. Every sixty seconds, there are 350 million new Tweets, 2.5 million new Facebook posts, and 220,000 new Instagram photos.
So how can your brand stand out in all of that digital noise? According to Michael Brito, the author of Your Brand: The Next Media Company, all you have to do is start thinking and acting, as a media company.
Citing a “content surplus” and consumer “attention deficit,” Brito recommends brands focus on five key characteristics that make media companies successful:
1) Be a Master Storyteller: Shape perceptions of your brand through compelling narratives. Coca-Cola has mastered the art of brand journalism, engaging consumers through interesting feature stories that resonate and make the brand likable. From a trip down memory lane with the company’s iconic 1979 ‘Mean’ Joe Greene commercial, to a video of a mesmerizing pendulum swing with Coke bottles made out of plants, the company excels at showcasing the brand's personality.
2) Be a Content Creator: Brands need to create and distribute content 24/7. Brands like Southwest Airlines, post round-the-clock, and are rewarded with customer loyalty. Southwest has sent out 121K tweets and has amassed a whopping 1.9 million followers. Compare that to its competitor Delta Airlines, which has only sent out 11.6K tweets and has half the number of followers that Southwest has.
3) Be Relevant: Real-time posts can have a huge impact on brand affinity, but the company has to know its audience and think about popular topics and plan ahead. For example, Virgin Holidays tweeted “Time for a honeymoon,” just moments after the same-sex marriage bill passed. Virgin’s owner, Richard Branson is known as an outspoken supporter of gay marriage.
4) Be All: Be everywhere all the time and focus on amplification. While ‘Likes’ and ‘Favorites’ are nice, brands need to focus more on creating content that will be Retweeted and Shared. The most retweeted brand post ever was when Nokia responded to Apple’s launch of iPhone colors. It said, “Thanks, Apple. Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery,” It received 40,467 retweets in 3 days.
5) Be Fast & Efficient: Brands that use social media monitoring tools can effectively “listen” for brand mentions and respond accordingly. Having the ability to create visual content quickly, can also be effective. One of the best examples is when SmartCarUSA quickly responded to a Tweet that said, “Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it.” The company quickly put together an even funnier infographic with emoji birds under the caption, “Weight of bird crap required to damage Smart’s Tridion safety cell.” The post received 534 Retweets and had a significant impact on brand affinity.
Brito vs. the Real-World: While Brito’s book serves as a brilliant playbook for large companies looking to gain ground in the digital space, it fails to adequately address the financial burden such tactics would have on small businesses that don't have the resources for elaborate social business strategies.
Small companies can’t post stories on social media, and expect that customers will automatically find them. According to a recent interview by Coca-Cola’s Director of Social Media, Tim Goudie, it takes a combination of paid, owned, and earned media to get messages to consumers. Coca-Cola uses its public relations department to get the word out to key stakeholders and traditional media. At the same time, the company pays for placement on social media to create a multiplier effect. Of course, all of this costs money. Even earned media, which is free publicity, can be cost prohibitive to small businesses, in the manpower hours required to get the stories in the right hands, or by hiring a public relations firm.
Smaller brands like Aspen Brewing Company, can learn a great deal by observing what works for larger beverage companies. In addition to Coca-Cola's strategies, Gatorade’s “Win From Within” social media campaign brilliantly engaged consumers in a new target demographic for the company. They gave teen athletes a chance to celebrate their athletic achievements by creating their own Gatorade label design. The company had 51,000 shares and more than a 100 million social media impressions. Now there's a class act to follow!