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What Social Network Matters for Your Brand

By Michael Kahn

We all realize the importance of social networking in marketing, but what sites should your brand use?

According to the S-Net (The Impact of Social Media) study, LinkedIn now boasts the title of “most important social network.” This survey by ROI Research, Inc., sponsored by Performics, surveyed 2,997 active social networkers to discover that 59% consider having a LinkedIn account to be the most important. Fifty percent of respondents visit the site weekly, while 20% visit it daily. So your company should get onboard with LinkedIn, right? <ins cite="mailto:Negus,%20Beth" datetime="2011-07-18T20:45"></ins>

While marketing through LinkedIn is on strategy for B-to-B brands such as LexisNexis and and B-to-C brands such as Lexus or Rolex, it may not be for your brand. LinkedIn reaches a workplace (or aspiring workplace!) audience in a certain mindset and at certain moments in time. It offers a great environment for reaching a potential customer looking for specific services, a new job, or appropriate transportation and accessories.<ins cite="mailto:Negus,%20Beth" datetime="2011-07-18T20:46"></ins>

But it wouldn’t be the right environment for reaching gamers, power moms, independent music lovers or affluent seniors. Brands such as Activision, Pampers, LiveNation or The John Hancock Company that target these audiences should consider starting with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube (which acts as both a video search engine and social site) and other sites that reach these audiences.<ins cite="mailto:Negus,%20Beth" datetime="2011-07-18T20:46"></ins>

Before using any social network for your brand, it’s crucial to understand that these sites have different purposes and deliver different audiences. Often, companies look at social media as one channel, but that can lead to a real disconnect by employing a one size fits all approach and offering an impersonal consumer experience. Marketers need to determine a solid plan of action and communicate with their team in order to effectively implement social network strategies that drive active participation. Before considering what networks in which to invest your brand’s time and resources, you should ask a few questions:<ins cite="mailto:Negus,%20Beth" datetime="2011-07-18T20:46"></ins>

·Who’s your audience?
Each social network has a unique audience, so your teams must understand an audience’s intent and expectations on that network. MySpace has maintained and strengthened their position as a music lover’s site. This is a perfect environment for American Idol sponsor Ford or any of the wireless carrier or device companies like Verizon or Blackberry who aggressively market their music playing features and functionality. Another example is Twitter which trends younger and attracts avid celebrity and sports figure followers. It’s an ideal place to market movies or team events. The point here is timeless. Know each social network’s audience and seek out participation on those that deliver your customer base. The results will follow. <ins cite="mailto:Negus,%20Beth" datetime="2011-07-18T20:46"></ins>

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·What’s your message?
What do you want to communicate to your audience? Because of the professional nature, LinkedIn can build credibility for brands. Communicating about brand and industry topics through groups can promote engagement. Also, this can be used for recruiting purposes to draw in qualified candidates. Twitter invites the quick spread of information through short messages, but often these messages can get overlooked if not updated regularly. Facebook enables sharing of information, events, photos, links, discussions and polls. The starting point for pinpointing your message is pinpointing your brand positioning and social network mission. With our customer base, we have clients that focus on:<ins cite="mailto:Negus,%20Beth" datetime="2011-07-18T20:46"></ins>

a. Building a dialogue with auto buyers as they initiate the buying cycle
b. Reinforcing insurance protection for auto and home owners
c. Acquiring apparel customers during key seasons of the year
d. Connecting with adult students considering a life change

What all these efforts have in common is a brand starting with a focus and market they want to message. Every social marketing effort should support a core purpose.

·What is your purpose?
Why are you using a particular social network, and what do you hope for in return? All social networking encourages participation and creates a feeling of membership, but what’s the specific reason your brand invests in each site? LinkedIn can provide professional industry news and trends, while Facebook can generate valuable feedback. Regarding participation, the S-Net survey found:

  • 53% frequently or occasionally use social networks to provide feedback to a brand or retailer
  • For Twitter, 59% are more likely to recommend a company they follow, and 58 percent are more likely to buy a product they follow
  • 59% use social networks to compare prices; 56% do so to talk about sales or specials

Each social network your brand uses should have a clearly defined strategy, involving a specific audience, message and purpose. Understanding what social networks to use and how to use the sites will promote success as you drive active participation.

Michael Kahn is senior vice president, client services at Performics and a monthly contributor to Chief Marketer.


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