In the seven-step brand-positioning process, step one on the list involves determining how your brand is currently positioning itself in the marketplace. And if a social media element isn’t part of that strategy, context will be lost in the mind of today’s ever-connected, techno-savvy consumer. In fact, implementing a solid social-media strategy is crucial to leveraging step number seven on the list: testing the efficacy of your brand-positioning statement. So if your brand’s statement of purpose falls flat on social media, it’s safe to say it won’t gain a foothold anywhere.
With that in mind, here’s some reasoning, as well as a few concrete examples, that prove how utilizing social media the right way can position your brand ahead of the pack.
The earned media factor
Increasingly, earned media is overshadowing owned media and paid promotion as the more effective of this marketing-strategy trifecta. That’s because a new generation of consumers exists that places a premium on authenticity above all else. They trust people over brands, they look to peers for product recommendations, and they eschew celebrity endorsements. Brands who create a successful earned-media campaign in this endeavor will not only enjoy more conversions, they will effectively turn customers into brand advocates who spread positive word of mouth across their various social-media profiles. That’s brand positioning at its most artful.
Now that marketers are realizing the value inherent in generating positive word-of-mouth authentically, the question then becomes how best to accomplish this? Any earned-media campaign should utilize influencers. These are social-media personalities, regular folks, who can be enlisted to review a product or service on their medium of choice. But influencers come in two categories: those who charge for their reviews and those who request only product samples. And while it’s not an automatic deal-breaker to pay an influencer, doing so eliminates all earned-media credibility. Therefore, facilitating trust in the minds of consumers via various social-media platforms is the best way to achieve authenticity and earned-media.
The rise of Instagram
As a photo-sharing site, Instagram is tailor-made for any visually appealing product—especially those manufactured by beauty and fashion companies. Take this jaw-dropping statistic for example: of the 13 million social-media interactions that took place during the fall 2016 New York Fashion Week, 97% occurred on Instagram. This trend wasn’t lost on beauty powerhouse Chanel, who invited top Instagram influencers to their production facility in the South of France for a retreat that just happened to feature the company’s upcoming No. 5 L’Eau fragrance. And mass Instagramming ensued.
Another point: there are newer businesses out there who aren’t merely saying that social-media is an important factor, but that Instagram itself is their most important touch point. Brands who can leverage the visual potential of their product and marry it with a successful Instagram strategy have the potential to draw millions of eyeballs to a single campaign.
The YouTube case studies: GoPro and Activision
GoPro could have been like many other consumer electronics manufacturers and relied on traditional “push” advertising to get the message out. But they had loftier goals, and achieving them meant harnessing the power of social media—YouTube to be precise. By creating a channel and allowing users to upload their own videos, they effectively turned their audience into branded content producers. This allowed them to rise above their status as a simple electronics product and become social-media powerhouse. The result is that GoPro is now synonymous with travel and adventure sports. Every indication is that it will be a while before a competing product supplants them in this realm.
But YouTube isn’t just for brands whose wheelhouse is the great outdoors. There is a major gaming market too. Activision is a video-game company probably most famous for its “Call of Duty” series, which is one of the most successful franchises in the history of console gaming. Not one to rest on their laurels, Activision took the then-risky move of focusing the brunt of their marketing on YouTube influencers. The strategy paid off, and their influencer videos were viewed almost 10 billion times, which is more than 20 times the views they received on the game’s own website. The result is that Activision positioned their brand front and center in the minds of gamers everywhere. And by utilizing honest reviews from respected YouTube personalities, the company achieved their monumental success the best way possible: authentically.
So how will your brand position itself at the forefront of social-media influence? Will you go all in on YouTube and Instagram? Will you find your niche in newer platforms like SnapChat, the way Burberry did to great success? Or maybe you’ll innovate beyond the rest and create a heretofore unheard of social strategy that boldly goes where no brand has gone before. The sky’s the limit.