Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Social Media, Social Currency & Brand Marketing

According to AdAge, “Brands have a compelling need to communicate who you are as a brand and what your stand for through social media in a far more consistent, strategic and global way.” But as the Gap learned from its logo debacle, consumers rather than the Gap’s marketing team, own the brand. And thanks to the explosion of social media channels and technologies, brands are sometimes forced to play catch up with consumers. In addition, brand advocates are now forced to handle their brands with white gloves and proceed carefully to create brand equity as if they walk on a circus tightrope.

In a study entitled “Social Currency, Why Brands Need to Build and Nurture Social Currency” conducted by Vivaldi Partners, “Brand social currency is not about social media, not about buzz, not about tactics. It is so much bigger. It gets to a brand’s long-term sustainability. It’s about how customers relate to one another in the context of brands and how those brands, companies, products and people relate to customers…It’s an experiential, holistic concept that we have deconstructed and reconstructed to map to brand value.”

In “the old days,” the traditional model of brand marketing focused on the principles of competitive positioning, target marketing, and consistent messaging. In today’s environment of building social currency, the focus is interaction, collaboration, conversation, and co-creation. According to Vivaldi Partners’ study, “If brands used to be built through creating mindshare, the new model of building social currency is about creating share of daily life.” As a result, the most compelling aspect and the least quantifiable aspect of social currency is that it is neither a product feature nor a public relations campaign; it is not managed by any single company; and it is much more delicate to build, nurture, and maintain.

But don’t despair. Here are four steps to build, nurture, and manage social currency:

  1. Understand buyers – how they connect, share, and chat
  2. Determine the levers of social currency – understand how buyers choose to grant permission to a brand to be part of their social life
  3. Define social currency strategy – decide which levers of social currency will create the most value for a company or brand
  4. Develop and execute social currency programs – make sure that the program integrates digital and social technologies with traditional brand-building plans

Since a myriad of brands compete for attention, it is imperative to evolve with the technology and marketing landscape. So, does your company have plans to develop its social currency in 2011?

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