Controlling your brand message in the age of social media

Branded businesses have more ways than ever to reach consumers – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, online media advertising – the list goes on. This has got to be fantastic for branded businesses, right? Not necessarily. 

It’s very noisy out there. According to research, consumers are inundated with around 20,000 marketing messages a day, compared to only 2,000 daily messages 30 years ago!

So actually, despite an increase in the plethora of ways brands can reach and interact with potential customers, it’s getting harder for branded businesses to get noticed. Controlling brand messages is more challenging than ever, it’s more important too, and successful brands are actually now getting more focused in their communications to get heard, not joining more shouting matches.

Brands generally now have an average of ten marketing channels to manage (including, but not limited to: press, radio, TV, outdoor, direct mail, website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) often with daily updates and new, exciting on-brand communication. But with this volume, consumers are not always being presented with a well-thought through, quality or consistent message from these brands. 

To be heard above the noise and cut through the clutter successful brands are recognising it’s time for ‘brand focus’. They’re honing in on the channels that matter and truly engaging their audiences by delivering information that is at least one of three things: useful, interesting, or unusual.

All this starts by investing up front and gaining genuine insight into the mind-set of their target audience. This comprehension process never stops either.

Read more: Why transparency is something no modern brand can do without

The way consumers are interacting with brands is continually evolving; their demands and expectations ever increasing. Therefore insight into their behaviour, wants and needs should be ongoing and in real time. What is exciting about new communication channels, the use of big data and online user experience studies, is that it’s easier for brands to get real-time insight into what consumers are doing digitally and to focus then on what’s important – rather than second guessing or putting this down to a hunch.  

Brands need to have a clear view of what problems their customers are looking to solve. What hierarchy of communication methods are right for the customer, and importantly this needs to be matched with ‘what’s right for the brand itself’. Why spend time operating a Pinterest profile when your brand has nothing visible to share and your customers simply aren’t there? 

By having a clear view of who the customer is, what they want from their interaction with your brand and what form of advertising has most relevance to them, a brand can really start to focus on delivering the right solutions to consumer’s perceived problems with a stronger, more consistent integrated plan. 

Getting involved in a shouting match has much less impact that ensuring cohesion, consistency and relevance of your brand at every touchpoint.

In short, a focused brand: 

  • Knows exactly what it does and what its consumers are doing too (in real time not five years ago)
  • Behaves in a way which everybody would expect, driven by a core defined positioning which is inherent through all messaging
  • Has a purpose – beyond making money – something in which it believes and which its customers can believe too
  • Isn’t afraid to keep it simple – it’s better to deliver one clear proposition than five fuzzy ones
  • Is different.  Often swimming against the tide of ‘conventions in the category’ helps a brand to get noticed (but a note of caution here; it’s important to ensure that this approach is likely to be accepted by its audience and isn’t at the detriment of the brand).

So my best advice for today’s branded businesses? Before investing in that next big marketing campaign, before piloting the next social media cab off the rank, ensure your brand is focused – really focused!

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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