Cute puppies better than a ‘fire sale’ tweet any day for brand building

By Wright Communications

You are like most people: you flit from site to site, only 'sticking' to sites that really manage to capture your interest, to 'engage' you just that bit longer than a lot of the dross the internet throws up in the average day.

Crucially, though, you may just post a link to something really cute/funny/poignant to your friends.  And in doing that, dear surfer, you prove yourself capable of being an extremely effective brand advocate.

At Wright we are all about getting clients to understand this vital social media marketing goal: getting people engaged with the content you generate for whatever platform you're using online.  That is, getting people to read your Tweets, follow your blogs, visit your Facebook page, and visit your website (and post links to all these), followed by buying your product or service, and ultimately, recommending it to their friends.

And that is why we were interested to see an outstanding trend in the latest in-depth survey of 1,000 social media users conducted by top research firm Colmar Brunton in July this year, which clearly showed that Kiwis were increasingly attracted to sites with lots of visual content - Pinterest, Instagram etc, and slightly moving away from Twitter (while retaining about the same interest in Facebook, LinkedIn and You Tube.

As Colmar Brunton points out, there are a couple of reasons for this broad movement to these new sites, one of which is that they are part of the fragmentation of the always-evolving social media marketplace: users are drawn, like magpies, to the new and shiny next-best-thing.

But there is more going on here.  Users find the content on these sites more engaging, they say. And online, that is money in the bank for a company;  especially when a huge majority of people - some 85 per cent or thereabouts - will share something with a friend or a group that they've found and consider interesting while on the web.

On a slightly different finding: many of those surveyed also claimed they loved a sale, or a bargain offered online (and, let's be honest, who doesn't?)  But the researchers claim that in fact, offering too many bargains actually detracted from brand building, because 'emotion is more important than promotion'.

Engendering emotion is a great route to go down for brand builders (and, is obviously the bedrock of the advertising industry).  In the context of social media, emotion is built by providing help and support within your messaging; making your content something that the user will feel eager to share with his or her friends (and will make that person 'look good' in the eyes of friends) and generally toning down if not eliminating, the 'sell sell sell' message.

Put these two points from the latest Colmar Brunton research together, and we get an idea of where social media marketers should be heading: towards pictures and visuals, and towards creating pure and genuine emotion with what we seek to put out there on any platform.  (In the survey, users re-iterated their dislike of overt and intrusive advertising on social media, especially on devices like mobiles and tablets, so consider yourself warned on this!)

To borrow from the clever bods at Colmar Brunton, who not only conduct research but also look at the findings and come up with solutions, we share with you some simple pointers to keep in mind when building a social media presence:

- Promoted posts must be strong, current and compelling, and include visuals

- Content must be fresh and frequently updated; nothing turns someone off faster than realising they are on a dormant site

- Reward fans and create connection through special treatment/ advantage, with a sharing and giving tone, rather than 'sell, sell, sell!'

It may seem a little bit daunting for many businesses - particularly when there are always a plethora of new social media sites and means to factor into the equation.  But the basic premise is the same.  Understand your market, find out what pushes their buttons, engage them, and lead them to your brand.

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