Looking for the widest, biggest audience? Startups cultivate niche influencers to build a following. Big brands use social media to start conversations that connect them with audiences that can be quickly built. Both very different kinds of business, sharing a need to be INTERESTING on social platforms. It's a content thing.
Content is key to helping people to care about a brand, and for brands to develop tone, personality and presence without selling. It's about inviting people in to your party with a curated mix of original and shared content that can say 'Hey, here's all the stuff we think is interesting and hope you do too." At its best it invites sharing and feedback that does more than fish for compliments, it cultivates community.
For most brands, not all audiences are deeply into social media and each audience segment is different. Recent research shows older people tend to trust Facebook recommendations from friends, while millenials trust a wider group of strangers more. Trust matters in creating brand value from social engagement.
Social strategies give brands an opportunity to be relevant to the people they want to reach, to hold a place in their lives. The sportswear company Columbia Twitter feed is about shared outdoor experiences. In the food world, small local brands can connect with international audiences and, as I wrote about Alton Brown in my last post, TV personalities are extending their brands in new ways for longevity. Small is cultivating big audiences with digital engagement. CustomMade has created a marketplace for small independent furniture designers and makers not only by bringing them together in one website but creating a great platform for their stories that have been picked up and shared by bloggers and publishers over social media.
What brands are doing to connect with people (don't call them consumers) mixes creativity, strategy, marketing, advertising, PR, publishing and communications. What's so inspiring for startups is how it puts small brands on the same playing field as big brands, despite staffing and budget differences. What's inspiring for big brands is how they can create organic communities around shared interest and be meaningful in peoples' lives.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every brand that is making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.