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Let Me Tell You About Don

July 1, 2014

By Michael Berberich, manager, marketing knowledge center

Don’t think your category can “work” on social media? Think again.

For certain categories, social media marketing is easy (or at least it’s straightforward): sports teams (fan pictures!), beer companies (full cooler at the beach party!), and TV shows (who’s YOUR favorite character?) “make sense”  on social because they are inherently fun, social categories. But what about construction supplies? Or health insurance? Or financial advisement?

It’s crucial for marketers to remember that consumers are on social media for conversations, not necessarily entertainment. A common misconception of social marketing is that its successes are extravagant, “home run” pieces of content that align with something culturally relevant, seemingly out of nowhere. The truth is successful social marketing comes from creating a “slow drip” of content a brand believes will be relevant to its audience based on listening to what they want and value. “As far as content creation is concerned, from day one brands have got to create content like they have 1,000,000 fans,” says author and social media expert Ben Blakesley. “Keep trying, because you’re going to fail a lot, but that will teach you what works and why it works. In the beginning you have very little to lose, so try everything.”

After a brand enters a social space and delivers content to engage consumers and spark conversations, it is vital to monitor these interactions and identify its “diehard” fans. Too often, brands will only respond to negative comments on social, and by ignoring the positive comments, waste valuable relationship building opportunities. While working at Vanguard, a financial service company, Blakesley noticed that “Don,” one of the firm’s clients, was interacting with the Vanguard Facebook page on a regular basis. To show its appreciation, the company sent Don a Vanguard mug, a four dollar investment in total. In return, Don wrote and posted a seven stanza poem on Facebook describing his excitement and thanking the brand. Several months later, on the day of Don’s retirement, Vanguard made its Facebook profile picture one of Don and his wife, and posted a song written in Don’s honor. For almost no money, Vanguard established an actual relationship with Don, ensuring his continued loyalty and advocacy. Furthermore, it positioned Vanguard as a brand that deeply, personally cares about its clients.

Social media success begins with listening. Instead of coming up with ways to make financial advice funny, sexy, or cool, Vanguard listened to its consumers and developed content based on what mattered most to them. Every brand has a “Don,” it’s just a matter of whether they’ve engaged him.

For more about effective social media marketing: http://www.ana.net/miccontent/show/id/s-mocmar14e2-vanguard

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