The idea with this model, is to help brands think through their social media presence. We’ve all seen brands enter into social media venues, whether opening a virtual office in Second Life, creating a fanpage on Facebook or taking steps to build a community of their own. What’s been surprising to note though, is the lack of focus and long term thinking in many of these initiatives. Twitter channels are created around events, then left to wither and die. Campaigns are launched, but only have a lifespan of a few months. More deep engagement and commitment is needed.
Depending on the nature of the company, certain engagement methods work better than others. I’ve taken a stab at defining them below:
This is very much about mapping the venues and initiatives that give a face to the brand. It’s not so much about what the brand says, but what it actually does. Involving consumers to different initiatives, creating time during which consumers can immerse themselves in a positive brand experience. It’s not about pushing the hard sell , but more about raising brand awareness and driving increase in measures such as net promoter score. Burger King’s Whopper Sacrifice on was a quite nice tie in to using an existing community in a manner that raised overall interest about the brand.
Some brands are great in connecting people through their services or technology. The brand itself isn’t at the forefront of the dialogue, but acts more as the enabler of the experience for the community. Nokia has done this quite nicely with Royal Artist Club. In essence, Nokia technology is utilized by the bands, to create their mobile blogs while on the go. Fans can get exclusive backstage footage of their favourite band and have the chance to comment and engage in conversations on a more personal level. There’s no money exchanging hands, it’s just about “giving love, to get love” in this case. These initiatives are more driven by generating sign ups to your enabling platform.
In the end, each brand needs a business model that brings a positive cash flow, in order to keep the wheels rolling. Thinking about where and how you want to go for the “direct sell” is just as important as mapping out where you do not want to do this. RSS feeds or Twitter channels that are specifically skewed towards communicating the latest offers are dimensions that need to be clearly defined before launching. There’s a lot of dialogue about how brands should “sell” within social media. My take is that all dimensions on the PESH model will generate sales, but they all do it in their own manner. In the “supplier” initiatives, brands should identify the best venues for driving their performance driven sales initiatives and be open about the purpose of the initiative. Transparency and openness.
Social media and care walk very much hand in hand. In many companies, the social media teams are part of the care organization, as it is so closely tied to the ongoing online monitoring and need for reactive actions. Social media provides great venues for listening, but at the same time, these need to be clearly identified and utilized in a way that helps consumers find help when they need it and not a call to action to participate in the latest marketing campaign.
In essence, this model is not meant to be a black & white chart, where activities need to be “locked” into a particular compartment. Many of the activities (for example participant) will include other dimensions (supplier / helper), but this model should help plan and differentiate the primary brand initiatives within the space and allows better focus both internally and externally.