While many have hailed the Internet and marketing in this media as the great leveler, they were deeply misinformed. Market leaders and strong brands have advantages in business and in all kinds of marketing and in online marketing no less so.
Strong brands don’t have to explain or introduce themselves – at least not to as many people. They can make use of carefully crafted shortcuts and can spend their budget on other objectives because they already have awareness. Their budget may also go farther because their cost per sale and cost per acquisition are often less than weaker or less well-known brands. They might have healthy email lists of customers and other ways to remind consumers to continue to purchase frequently because consumers are more likely to consent to remarketing options with strong brands. Strong brands enjoy that advantage because they have built a foundation with a usually costly and long-term investment in the brand. In the voice of a famous ad campaign that many of our younger readers might not recognize – they did it the old fashioned way: they eaaarrned it.
The value of brand in social media is no less important. While any business can work on engaging audiences through social channels, it is the strongest brands that have built the strongest communities to date. Smaller brands can and have won by proving that they understand the channel and their audience needs, but the strategies for a well-known, well-understood, and well-liked brand should differ from a newly-launched, lesser-known, or reputation-challenged brand.
Bottom line across all media: better or positive brand awareness equals a lower cost of acquisition, which means that for lesser-known brands, you should be prepared for a larger investment of both time and money to get the results that you are looking for in both paid and earned social media channels.
Good suggestions for all brands but critical for smaller brands:
Invest Your Time
- Less well-known brands have to work hard to create or curate rich content that their audiences find relevant and valuable since it is likely the content, not the brand association will draw users in. Plan for more frequent content updates to keep audiences interested and sharing.
- Your Facebook page and Twitter bio need to be more descriptive. Don’t assume that users who hit your page know what you are about. Test different language and graphic approaches to see what works best.
- Provide eye-catching creative and photography. Choose thumbnail images carefully to paint a quick picture of the brand in social channels.
- Offer frequent, well-thought-out social posts that encourage participation and sharing. Establish your brand early in social media as one that listens and is active and responsive to maximize the impact of the beginnings of your audience.
- Product education through social. While larger brands may have the luxury to assume that consumers know their products, smaller brands can use the channel to introduce products and product lines, solicit testimonials, or use multimedia to demonstrate the value of their offerings.
- Promotional opportunities like a sweepstakes can be a great awareness or trial-driving tool for any size brand, but for smaller or trailing brands it gives users an incentive to get to know them. Product discounting based on social sharing offers another way to encourage greater awareness.
Invest Your Money
- A higher ad cost is the likely fate of smaller brands including a higher CPC and a bigger total budget required to meet the same objectives as a stronger brand might meet with less investment. People respond to names they know – much less so to names (or brands) they don’t. Invest that budget wisely with all the targeting options available in social advertising to avoid as much waste as possible.
- You might need a stronger carrot to spur participation if you don’t have brand capital. Every audience is unique in what it responds to, so don’t go immediately for a sweeps with a splashy prize package but be prepared to invest where needed.
- If your budget is flexible, use more of it early so that early growth has the chance to multiply later on when the social dynamics can help to extend your reach.
The consumer education and communication that creates a strong brand may be costly but it is also very valuable. Time, money, and resources are the currency that both help compensate for a lack of brand strength and at the same time build the brand if done well. If you have the advantage of a great brand, don’t squander it with lazy marketing or bad content in social channels. If you are working with a new launch, a smaller brand, or one with a challenge to overcome, you can carefully craft your approach to maximize the impact of the resources that you do have.
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