Is Community Building Outside Social Media The Key to Brand Success?
Brands have always focused on consumer behavior while crafting their communication and marketing strategy. So, building a powerful social media presence was not just a mere option for brands. Statistics reveal that the internet has 3 billion active users out of which around 2.1 billion have accounts over social media platforms. So the verdict is out; businesses need to be present where their consumers are in order to acquire the maximum attention and recognition.
Out of the available social media platforms, Facebook leads with 1.4 billion active users. This is followed by other networking platforms like Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and Twitter. The majority of the brands have a presence in the digital world in the form of mobile apps, websites or social media accounts. The main objective of social media presence is to rope in brand consumers building a powerful communist of brand advocates and loyalists.
It seems a win-win situation for social media platforms. They have been successful in offering their users or consumers with a comfortable social space over the web, something that has now turned into an addiction. Moreover, so far as brands are concerned, the same platforms have given them easy access to the user base.
The Truth Within
Those who are simple users of social media get a free platform but for brands it is not so. They can create an account and establish their presence free of cost but in order to reach out to the larger chunk of the user base, they have to pay.
The consumer has always been the king, be it online or offline. The normal tendency is to follow or like a number of brands across different social media platforms, without any necessary commitment to any particular brand as such. This kind of fluctuating behavior on the part of social media users makes brands almost incapable of identifying the loyalists. Given this, it is becoming more and more difficult for brands to reach out not only to the user base over social media platform but also to the user base over their own brand page.
Here are some relevant data from Facebook for a clearer understanding:
• With every user log, around 1500 stories appear in the News Feed. Considering the fact that users have several Page likes and friends, around 15000 potential stories could be there for each log on.
• The number of pages that users like over Facebook has increased by over 50% last year.
• Around 300 stories are displayed by News Feed out of the 1500+ that is available with every log on.
Given all this, expenses over social media marketing have become a part of the mainstream online marketing expenses. In addition to this, there are the expenses involved for creation of quality content for sharing across these networking platforms.
On the whole there are two major challenges. The first is to obtain the undivided attention of customers across different social platforms. Another challenge lies in the diminishing importance of branded communities across the existing social media platforms.
Time to Think Beyond Social Media
It would indeed be risky for brands to avoid social media platforms because that is one of the key channels of consumer engagement. But the time has come for large, medium as well as small brands, to look further than social media and think about online community building.
A few brands have already started off on this path through development of customized online communities. In a way these are forums. Although the forum concept has been there for a considerably long time, at present it is being reinvented.
Social media platforms are increasingly being used to identify and hunt out true brand loyalists. Following identification, the next step is to make the loyalist a part of the exclusive forum or community of the brand. Once this migration is successful, the path to customized communication becomes more hassle-free.