Crafting an idea, building a brand, launching it and growing a following all take time and the key factor in making a brand successful is building relationships on social media. Social media has shifted the focus of strategic marketing from informational ads to creating content and having conversations within social groups. According to the 2018 article in The Journal of Media Research Online Brand Awareness. A Case-Study on Creating Associations and Attachment by Alina Nechita “the symbolic dimension built by communicative means ensures the consistency and value of a brand.”
Nechita discusses figuring out how your audience is using social media, she mentions the reach of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, and niche blogs for reaching your audiences. You should be figuring out what platforms your audiences are using, Facebook and Pinterest report the most active users, Instagram is popular with teenagers and young millennials, what are your consumers using?
Once you know where the people are, where do you start? Nechita’s research recommends piggy-backing on influencers; she specifically mentions using influencers who test products, applies personal experience, and share a final verdict. Nechita acknowledges the potential for bias but mentions that these tend to be very successful and apply similarly to general brand awareness. She states that “in the absence of a well-known brand to associate it with, the impact of its message will soon become null.”
Though Nechita recommends building brand awareness through more established brands and influencers, it can be done over time through consistent engagement with social groups online. The process requires analysis of not only sales, but of likes, shares, and comments at six-month intervals.
You should be establishing consistent positive interactions with your consumers online. Nechita mentions looking into all mentions of your brand and having them removed. The text mentions how detrimental to a new brand a negative comment could be and recommends going as far as to look the person up and contact them to discuss having the comment removed as well as frequently removing those who engage negatively online. While a negative comment may be detrimental, I think to contact someone with the goal to remove it seems risky, I would think responding directly would be a better solution. Public criticism deserves a public response.
She goes on to mention that creating a tone or mood to the conversations on social media is also important, she mentions humor working particularly well here in America like Wendy’s use of Twitter. It is essential to create a conversation that your audience wants to be a part of and is relevant.
Another key point that she makes is that the worst possible thing a brand can do is to ignore the customers. Nechita iterates that with well-known brands, our consumption shows who we are, it’s a representation of us so the brand’s personality needs to match up with our own. These brands have to continue to stay relatable to the consumer and she elaborates on this by going over measuring customer satisfaction and that being shared among social communities: if you like it, you tell your friends about it, right? She states that the most successful brands are the ones that “fulfill the needs of community members.”
This doesn’t just mean physical needs but emotional ones as well, she offers the example of Samsungs’ commercial in India in 2018, where they mention a refrigerator taking care of you like your mother does, driving on strong emotions like a mothers’ love, maybe sadness from missing that mother, and so on. Nechita makes the point that “the brand sales goal is no longer obviously profit-oriented, but apparently targets its alignment to certain emotional needs, to bring joy to customers.”
The article goes on to warn of trying to engage online by launching too many social media accounts at once that you cannot create individual content consistently for each or not having a specific communication strategy which creates inconsistency in messaging. It says that “humanizing a brand will ensure the public’s involvement for a longer period of time” and unattended social media profiles that have old posts at the top of the page create the feeling that the brand is doesn’t care about interacting with their consumers.
So what this research boils down to is finding your target audiences and immersing your brand into the conversation in the various social groups in your audience and then having an honest, organic conversation with your consumers and figuring out their needs and trying to fulfill them. Through this process, you create a lasting impression on your audience and an authentic value to your brand that consumers want to take part in and share with others.
NECHITA, V. A. (2018). Online Brand Awareness. A Case-Study on Creating Associations and Attachment. Journal of Media Research, 11(2), 91–111. https://doi-org.liblink.uncw.edu/10.24193/jmr.31.7
Carol Friday is a Communication Studies senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is the creative director for the community group managing the Communication department’s Twitter page, the IMC Hawks blog, and its respective Twitter and Facebook page.