Using Social Insights to Drive Brand Preference

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Using Social Insights to Drive Brand Preference

Winning brand preference over competitors is a challenge for all marketers looking to attract and retain customers. To be successful, it is essential to find channels where customers can be engaged and build a connection with the brand.

Historically this has been difficult to achieve. It requires multiple touchpoints with potential customers across various media, and too often relies on direct response to measure effectiveness. Unfortunately those tactics, and the resulting data, have never been able to provide the level of connection necessary to truly influence brand preference. As marketers, we've been conditioned to meticulously work our way down the purchase funnel and obsess over ROI. It's time we recognized the funnel works both ways and put more emphasis on making an impact through brand engagement.

This is where social media is changing everything. Social platforms provide the structure for people to forge connections. They allow customers to talk and engage with each other, build communities around shared interests and create a two-way discourse with brands.

The power of social media for brand branding building is exemplified in campaigns like the Oreo Daily Twist. The campaign's goal was to take a 100-year-old cookie that was in danger of becoming stale and put it in the cultural limelight. Social data succeeded in aligning the brand with the most relevant content in real-time. And as Forbes points out, "there is nothing like social media when it comes to cultivating a community. When your followers become your community, you gain instant access to them … you can find out what challenges they are facing and what they like and don't like about your offerings."

The data of social media builds on this with unprecedented tools to drive brand preference by providing:

  • More and better customer intelligence. Given the enormous number of people using social media (Facebook alone boasts nearly 1 billion active monthly users) marketers can now leverage the largest set of observational data that's ever existed. But social data also provides a view into a person's connections to other people and preferences. This more rounded user profile delivers insights into which brand characteristics they find appealing -- key to winning brand preference.
  • Brand tailoring. With social, brands no longer have to take a one-size-fits-all approach. The strongest source of personal interest data and powerful targeting capabilities allow brands to discover niche audiences and deliver bespoke content, aligning with an audience's passion points and building brand relevance.
  • A new solution to old problems. Marketers have traditionally had to funnel branding through client relationship management and direct response to learn if it has resonated. The social format removes that funnel by showing instant user recall and response. The immediacy of social data can also show if a customer is engaging with a brand as a result of an ad that just ran or even overlap television viewing data through a set top box. With this insight, branding campaigns can become more focused and responsive.
  • Innovative opportunities. Social media platforms are not only engaging but also creating new experiences for users. In the same way that Instagram's single image marketing is often more captivating than a traditional ad, and Pinterest has redefined the wish list, social media is constantly innovating better ways to connect with customers.
  • Flexibility across data sets. Social data can overlay topographic, geographic and other information to gain deeper knowledge of a target audience's engagement. A marketer can learn who's tuned into a set top box, visiting a web site, or pinged on Instagram or Pinterest, and measure response.

Applying social media in these ways can deliver striking results. A large consumer electronics brand integrated a large social component into its recent event sponsorship. The brand saw a 125 percent increase in engagements and 25 percent increase in loyalty in the week following the event.

Brand preference can only be won if a customer feels truly connected to a brand in a way that goes beyond marketing tactics such as pricing and promotion-- not to mention reach and frequency. By leveraging their many advantages, social platforms offer a marketer new and better ways to shepherd that process and drive lasting brand impact.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of management or associated bloggers.

[Image courtesy of cooldesign/]

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