How Social Media Reached Beyond the Digital Veil and Changed the Way We Do Business

Ms. Sarah Derreberry
July 19, 2012 — 1,519 views  
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The world of digital is changing consumers’ expectations and demands as they interact with brands and companies in the real world as well as the digital space. Here are three keys to finding success for businesses and brands in the new, transparent world of marketing.

Be rather than seem.

Our world is one of constant sharing and updating, where every product interaction or customer service experience is a potential social media post. Digital isn’t a separate sphere from the store-front or the retail shelf, but a natural extension of the brand experience. Both the physical and the digital are crucial to building a positive market presence, engendering loyalty and creating consumer evangelists.

Brands are no longer singularly constructed by marketers’ strategic messaging, brand slogans or promotional materials. The world of digital interaction is one where consumers co-define brands along with companies. In January 2012, McDonald’s undertook a Twitter campaign to share positive brand stories under the hash tag #McDStories. When the reality of consumer experiences didn’t support the rosy company outlook, #McDStories became more about consumer venting than brand enhancement. This shift to brand co-definition makes it essential that you not only talk about providing great customer experiences and reliable products, but that real-life experiences and product interactions support your benefit claims.

Show, don’t tell.

The digitally savvy consumer seeks authenticity and access. Incorporating videos, photos and every-man experiences into your marketing efforts will increase your chances of capturing and holding precious consumer attention.

The popularity of image sharing sites such as Pinterest and applications like Instagram demonstrate consumer enthusiasm for visuals – a medium in which understanding is nearly immediate and interaction occurs in bite-sized increments. In a digital world dedicated to revealing and amusing, brands and companies that offer behind-the-scenes visuals, sneak peeks or exclusive looks can reinforce a sense of connection with consumers. Nina Garcia, fashion director at Marie Clare magazine, jumpstarts attention for the fashion magazine by posting runway images to Pinterest. Nearly 250,000 dedicated followers get a sneak at fashion’s next phase, which builds Garcia’s and the magazine’s credibility as they work hard to give consumers instant access to high-end sartorial trends. Visual communication also increases the likelihood that consumers will distribute brand content via their personal channels – quick, unique and visually arresting are key components of viral content.

Not just moderation but participation.

Traditional models of marketing entailed the development of a plan, implementation of the plan and monitoring of the plan. The modern consumer space demands a more elastic approach. While planning remains essential, so is a willingness to listen to consumer feedback and embrace real-time adaptation.

Participation requires brands and companies to “be real” with consumers; develop and share worthwhile content; and embrace personality. What does participation offer in return for the time and money you invest in engagement? It can give brands direct access to consumer insights, help more clearly define customer brand journeys and provide product and process inspiration.

Ms. Sarah Derreberry

Chernoff Newman

As a member of the Chernoff Newman public relations team, Sarah Derreberry provides strategic public relations support and social media outreach for local and national clients in a variety of industries including: agriculture, business and education.