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How to define your brand through social media: strategies on creating a successful social media mark

There are lists, guides, websites, and books on how to define your brand through social media. However, research on the effects of social media on brand marketing has established three main factors of a successful social media marketing campaign: appeal, interest, and informative videos/demonstrations; engagement/discussion with the customers; and customer recognition/involvement. Research from eMarketer, Inc., an Internet market research firm, reported an increase in shoppers making purchases after watching product videos. The firm also found that “videos reduce shopping cart abandonment rates and diminish product return rates." Companies who post their television commercials to YouTube and other social media websites have a higher rate of ecommerce sales and are more willing to share their purchases with their friends.

A main factor in a successful social media marketing campaign is appealing to the targeted audience with interesting content. Part of that appeal is using the social media channels that are the most relevant and useful for the public. Pinterest has become the third largest social media network after Facebook and Twitter, making it an ideal channel to utilize and reach a large audience. An online board, Pinterest allows users to share products and ideas with other users and friends. Brands can then use the site to post relevant content of their products and services for users to like, comment, and repost for their friends and followers to see, thus allowing the users to generate and spread the brand’s awareness freely among others who the brand also appeals to.

YouTube videos have created great success for many companies both large and small. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. utilized YouTube to promote their community efforts. Their campaign called Responsible Sports features short clips from coaches who discuss the impact of sports on character building in children. Responsible Sports is the company’s program dedicated to supporting volunteer coaches and parents. Liberty Mutual brands the video with their logo on the screen and the coaches are wearing shirts festooned with the company’s brand. Another company, REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), has been creating short, low-budget do-it-yourself videos that provide information and demonstrations on how to operate its products. By developing these appealing, everyday life videos that showcase activities that resonates with common people, this creates a strong strategic move that will appeal and interest a large audience for the marketing campaign, generating greater awareness and brand recall.

Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have become central destinations for customer service, customer feedback, and customer inquiries for many companies like Walmart, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Macy’s, and Southwest Airlines. Even restaurants and colleges are utilizing social media for quick and easy feedback and questions. REI, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Nike, and Comcast are some of the top companies that have reputable and excellent social media customer service. A study done by Simply Measured, a social media analytics website, showed that 99 percent of top brands are on Twitter and 30 percent of those brands have dedicated social media customer service. Those top brands had an average response time of 5.1 hours with 10 percent of them responding within one hour. Customers will often take to social media to resolve problems, so, quick, personal, and helpful responses to customer inquiries help companies get in touch with the customers on a personal level without the hassle of face-to-face interactions, thus creating an easy and convenient solution to resolve problems and creating positive outcomes and experiences.

Customer recognition and involvement has become one of the quickest ways to create customer communication and interaction, thus, increasing the company’s awareness and loyalty. Southwest airline’s “Nuts About Southwest” blog has become one of the most popular amongst industry blogs. Their popular “Luv Mail” is an active section of their blog that features letters, emails, or phone calls bi-weekly from customers who share their stories about Southwest’s legendary customer service. The blog also features popular, nation-wide contests. The latest called “The Great Southwest Scavenger Hunt” asked travelers to take pictures of 9 out of 12 items while traveling with Southwest and posting them to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag “#Hunt4SWA." These activities demonstrate strong marketing strategies to generate high customer involvement in ways that the brand or company will be able to interact and engage with those customers in two-way communication efforts.

Southwest is also one of the most trending and talked about airlines on Twitter according to Twitter’s “Trending” tool. When Southwest first learned the value of social media, they announced a two-day fare sale through Twitter instead of using paid advertising. The Twitter promotion resulted in the two highest traffic days in Southwest’s website and the top two revenue days in the airline’s history. A repeat Twitter promotion held the next year broke the records again. Customers who travel and use Facebook have a 27 percent chance of sharing their travel plans and experiences with friends, resulting in “free” brand awareness and promotion for the airline or hotel.

Therefore, social media can be an important and crucial tool for brand awareness and promotion for customers who use social media to like, comment, and share their positive experiences with their friends on their social channels. Whether customer experiences are positive or negative, customers will take to social media to resolve problems or give praise, share a positive or negative experience, research products with their friends and ask for recommendations, and be drawn to products and services that appeal to their interest and likability.

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