In the olden days (read: 2007), we at On Board positioned ourselves as “community marketing experts”. We touted the benefits of personal connections and direct, face to face conversations between brands and consumers. We showcased the potential reach and influence of word of mouth marketing and how a comment from a friend could carry more weight than a whole series of televisions spots. And we found a lot of success in building connections, for both emerging and Fortune 500 brands.
These social networks have overhauled human connection, literally rewiring the way we engage with one another. In the ensuing perception shift, marketers became intensely focused on these new, shiny tools, playing with their boundaries or creating fun gimmicks for attention. As the tools matured, however, so too did our understanding of how to properly employ them, and now that we’re beginning to a arrive to a smarter, more strategic approach to social media marketing, it turns out it’s not that unique. It’s community marketing all over again.
The strongest brands in the social media space are not pushing packaged messaging, but allowing for open conversation. They are putting their people – real, honest to goodness people – on their social sites to respond to, share with, and generally embrace the attentions of their online network.
The continued realization that social media is not as much a form of entertainment as a conduit for entertainment has allowed us – as experiential marketers with an expertise in community building – to only strengthen our clients’ relationships with their consumers. Where social media campaigns used to stand alone (to attempt to stand out), they are now infused into the same, interpersonal connections our brand ambassadors are able to offer on site. This allows for a seamless communication strategy that oscillates on and offline, working together towards a more genuine bond between brand and consumer.
This lesson – to hold the values of consumer connections above the tools that foster them – will be one for savvy marketers to keep in mind. Especially five years from now, when everything has changed again.