September 22, 2015 at 10:35 AM
At Forrester Research’s Groundswell for Excellence in Social Media Awards ceremony held in April this year, winners were recognised for their innovative use of social media to drive awareness of their brands, delight customers with quality content, and reach more people than could ever have been possible in a world without tweets and shares. I’ve been somewhat puzzled by talk of social media, as a marketing platform at least, being on its last legs. The way I see it is that social is only shifting into higher gear and looking at how this year’s Forrester Research winners leveraged the medium to up their relationship marketing game, social media is still very much alive and kicking. You can read more about this year’s winners and submissions here.
Social media relationships are the currency of digital marketing
As a category at the Forrester awards, Social Relationship Marketing highlighted the efforts of companies who turned to social platforms to engage existing customers and boost brand awareness, manage relationships, and engage customers to help them get the most out of their products. Autodesk, which won in the B2B relationship category, engages in proactive customer support with their “Total Community” strategy which involves leveraging social and online communities to “…foster peer-to-peer support, drive greater brand affinity, and solidify relationships with its customers. [Our strategy] has evolved to focus on collaborating with and anticipating the needs of customers.” With nearly 200 000 Twitter followers and a bustling brand community, Autodesk updates, guides, informs, delights and interacts with customers and cultivates invaluable brand affinity in the process. This level of exposure has helped Autodesk build on existing relationships and use those in-roads to attract new customers in the process.
From social butterflies to community organisers
Brand communities are communities of people who share an affinity to a brand and have become the portals of choice for customers seeking to filter their personal news stories to focus on their interactions and experiences with brands, their products and their services. These communities can almost be considered a natural next step in the social media evolution with customer-centrism fuelling the need for more sophisticated engagement strategies. Branded communities complement social platforms in the sense that they allow businesses to offer tangible after-sales value and spur customers on to spread the word. This Forrester blog explains quite succinctly how branded communities are helping companies expand their reach and foster awareness in a saturated social landscape. For further reading, also check out how food and beverage giant, Knorr, has managed to garner 10.7 million Facebook likes and a huge following of their “What’s for Dinner” campaign by building both social and branded communities into their relationship marketing strategies.
There is no such thing as digital strategy, only strategy in the digital age
One of the great effects of the internet is that it has brought people together in ways unimaginable say, twenty five years ago. This has challenged traditional norms and also democratised the customer/business dynamic to the extent that mindful and measured engagement is no longer reserved for the VIP customer, but has become the birth-right of every consumer of your product. Social media, in its current and future iterations, will continue to offer new opportunities for customer relationship marketing, and companies that welcome them will reap the rewards of their current and future social engagement strategies.
Image credit: http://blog.printpapa.com/