Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2015 Trend to Watch — The Social Homecoming of Brands

As competition on traditional social platforms grows fierce, many brands are realizing that they can create engaging social spaces for consumers on their own websites.
While Facebook is still the biggest, most dominant social game in town and the "lowest common denominator" of social marketing, it’s not the only game. Social audiences continue to splinter, challenging brands in how they respond to audiences, and how they build positive and engaged communities that cross platform boundaries. With the disparate "pools" of social activity occurring on each platform, there are myriad challenges of ownership, messaging, and coordination for both proactive marketing, and "reactive" support, as well as the increasingly tough pressure of getting into the social "pay to play" News Feed in a way that is socially sensitive and not spammy.
In talking to our brand clients, we are hearing consistent messages coming back to us that reflect awareness of the pressing nature of these challenges. We hear brands want to not only "regain ownership" of their communities, but also build new relationships with their communities, and between community members, based on a common interest in a brand and its products — whether that product is consumer goods, travel destinations, or business services. We hear that they appreciate social is great for paid reach, but less for control.
One way our clients are approaching this challenge to get back control is to build socialized communities on their own brand websites. A recent Forrester survey shows that U.S. online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost three times as likely to visit your site as to engage you on Facebook. There, brands get to control their destiny. There, brands can potentially leverage all the great knowledge, insight, feedback, and content that is being generated by their customers. And, instead of "rolling off" the News Feed, content on brand websites stays around to provide ongoing value that can be shared out to social channels to drive more people back.

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