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Social media and its importance to brands

By Ayopo Ayodeji

I read a news report in the media recently about Toyosi Akerele, the founder of R.I.S.E, a youth development organisation. She was quoted as saying her organisation can mobilise about 60 million youth.

I gave her comment serious thought and was beside myself imagining how it could happen. However, it is possible, as R.I.S.E network has been a veritable platform for youth networking. The organisation utilises social media as a potent tool to reach out to millions of youth out there and has achieved huge success through this platform.

Social media has become an integral part of our daily existence. With consumers getting more sophisticated, companies should begin to refocus their marketing strategies. It is actually the ‘in’ thing and has definitely come to stay.

Companies now use social media, such as blogs and community sites, to market their brands. Popular social sites such as Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and You Tube have more than five million visitors daily. In Nigeria, bellanaija.com, Naijapal, Linda Ikeji, and others have become veritable channels of engagement.

Promoting brands using these sites is very attractive and will definitely reach the target audience. This is due to the huge amount of human traffic that passes through the sites on a consistent basis. Social media helps brands maintain a consistent and constant presence in the lives of consumers, bridging the gap between the two.

This platform is also attractive to brands, as it is a low cost investment when compared to other available options. Conventional methods of advertising cost a lot more, while effectiveness and reach are achieved with social media, which guarantees consumer attention and loyalty to brands. Social media fosters a two-way communication and builds meaningful connections with the target audience companies intend to reach.

It also promotes the word-of mouth concept which drives visibility for brands. When more people tell good stories about a brand, it helps build goodwill and brand acceptability. Companies, through their brands, can make lasting impact on consumers through the adept use of social media marketing. Brand advocates are created through the influence of this platform. Through networking, some causes are promoted online in order to mobilise support and enlist others.

For instance, on Facebook, a group is created to advance a particular issue and within the twinkle of an eye, thousands of people sign up for such.

Imagine if a group on ‘Good Health is in Our Hands’ campaign of Dettol is created online. It will massively drive visibility for the brand through its key messages on why we need to have maximum protection against germs. The brand will have advocates that will ultimately become consumers.

However, in adopting social media, there should be a strategic plan to communicate the brand offerings. This is important in order to maximise the enormous potentials and leverage that social media offers. The brand should be properly defined in clear and concise language.

The core target segment should be identified, while opportunities for the brand are also explored. A content and engagement strategy that appeals to the identified needs of the target audience is important.

It is also key to listen and observe the trend of online conversations. It is not just enough for a brand to adopt social media marketing. This is because each target segment has something that appeals to it than the others.

Observation will enable companies measure the impact of usage of social media. There should be a tangible reason for doing so. It is one thing to have fans, but the fans should be turned to consumers and advocates.

The importance of having the right message cannot be underestimated in social media. This is because of its effective role in reaching a dynamic audience. Brands should paint realistic pictures of what they stand for in the marketplace. There should be a linkage between brand promise and consumer satisfaction. Social media helps in spreading the good sides of a brand only when the consumer experience is exciting.

Social media indeed brings new opportunities which should be leveraged for impact. It helps companies learn how to achieve results. It also builds brand loyalty and followership. This creates an online community of brand loyalists and enthusiasts who have had an exciting experience with the brand.

Ayopo, a communication strategist and public relations specialist, is the CEO of Shortlist Ltd. Email: shortlistspecialists@gmail.com

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