Getting Social With Big Brands

Ryan Moede, Former Viget

Article Category: #Strategy

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With engagement the new name in the metric game for marketers, brands are rabidly trying all that they can to build sites that foster any level of engagement with their customers. Some are well-suited to creating their own community, while others would be wise to invest in leveraging pre-existing social networks like MySpace or Facebook. (Mashable has a post up listing several recent initiatives, including social networks from Reebok and Disney.) Recently, even musicians like 50 Cent and Kylie Minogue have begun focusing their efforts beyond MySpace to create their social networking platforms. Coca-Cola is one brand that has been throwing a fistful of darts on the social media wall - hoping for something to stick. After failing to see the value in last year's viral sensation "Diet Coke and Mentos," and somewhat lackluster experiments in Second Life among others, they're gaining some traction in their latest blog. What Coca-Cola is learning, as are other brands that are joining the conversation with their customers, is that it requires a longterm commitment to nurturing those relationships. Relationships, that quite frankly, need to built on their customer's terms.
"One of the principles crucial to this space is adding value to the conversation," said John Battelle, CEO of Federated Media, a social-marketing advertising company. "It means oftentimes underwriting content or creating a service people actually want. That shifts a brand from being a declarer of values and lifestyle to being a provider of one. That's very different."
As those values are co-defined between brand and customer, the users are beginning to respond positively to these engagements--especially for the artists. As Julia McNally says, "Fans seem to be buying directly from the sites. On Minogue's KylieKonnect, launched in fall 2007 through U.K.-based New Visions Mobile, nearly 25 percent of users have made a ringtone, download or merchandise purchase, company director."

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