Nidhi Makhija-Chimnani is Director of Research and Insights at MSLGROUP, based in Dubai. She tracks digital consumer trends for People’s Insights and is community manager of MSLGROUP’s insights community SPRINT.
In today’s digital world, people often find that they’re awfully busy. Busy making overwhelming to-do lists on their latest productivity app. Busy trying to get their inbox down to zero. Busy checking all those notifications on WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, reading the news at NYTimes and The Guardian… phew!
What’s a brand got to do to stand out amongst the constant flood of chats, news, pop gossip and advertising in today’s cluttered content-driven world? Spamming timelines is obviously not the answer. Neither is holding back cold turkey from social media. How about building relevance by telling stories that are meaningful. Stories that matter.
1. Stick to your Values – both those of your brand’s and of your audience’s
Brand values can be easy to forget in the age of social media, where a constant churn of content used to be the main objective. Take for example posts from brands simply wishing people happy holidays (from Diwali, Eid, Christmas to Independence Day, Children’s Day etc etc). These posts get likes – sometimes more than average – which makes them oh so tempting. But what’s the impact? How does it tie back to the brand and contribute to a stronger affinity, association or recall?
It’s far more meaningful to link communications back to an aspect of the brand – the promise, programs, stories about its people – or values that the brand shares with its audience. Less frequent and more thoughtful communications can help your brand stand out. At the least, it can help prevent social media gaffes that are increasingly common as some brands race blindly to use the latest trending hashtags.
2. Prepare for Real-Time engagement
When done right, real-time engagement impresses people because of the amount of thought that has gone into it and the sheer speed of turning around a branded message. Indeed, it does take a lot of time, effort, planning and process to produce such content. Scanning calendars of cultural events, identifying ones relevant to your brand, preparing content strategies for multiple outcomes, and building a process to get quick approvals.
Essentially, it’s about building modern newsrooms for your brand, and reaping the benefits (buzz, reach, engagement) if your content hits the right spot.
3. Join the Social Conversation
At the other end of the planned real-time spectrums is spontaneity: being tuned in to social conversations about your brand, and responding when required. It’s not just about managing crisis, it’s also about spotting cultural trends which your brand should be a part of.
A good example would be napkin brand Bounty’s quick move to partner with daddy-blogger ‘Napkin Notes Dad’ to help raise funds for his cause (#Napkins4Emma). Napkins and family-values are core to the brand, and the audience of parent-bloggers couldn’t be more spot on.
4. Tie in Location
As location-based services improve and proliferate, location-based engagement is a growing area where brands can engage creatively.
People are constantly connected on multiple devices – laptops, mobile phones, wearable tech, smart home appliances and so on. Brands that can identify the right moment and place to target people with the right message, create opportunities to win. Asics’ recent “We are Marathoners” campaign is a brilliant example. A sponsor of the NYC Marathon, Asics used 3D printing to create personalized mini-statues for 500 participants, on a first come first serve basis. Asics also provided them with location-tracking RFID chips and asked for permission to post photos to their Facebook profiles. Behind-the-scenes, Asics photographed each of the statues at three points along the course. Then on race day, Asics posted these photos on their Facebook profiles in real-time, when the marathoners passed the actual locations.
Now that’s relevance on all four counts: connecting the brand with audience values, at the right time and location, and kick starting social conversations!
Relevance doesn’t have to be that complicated of course. But it does demand that we be a lot more thoughtful.
This post is a part of our People’s Insights report The Future of Creativity, in which experts from MSLGROUP and some from Publicis Groupe identify 15 drivers for engaging creatively in 2015.