Leveraging Social Media: Reaching the Consumer Through Community

Happy Monday! Today, we have another IMAGES USA staff member as our guest blogger. Tuwisha Rogers, IMAGES USA Account Supervisor and professor at Bauder College, gives us the 411 on using social media as a tool to build communities around brand awareness and cause-related marketing. Thanks, Tuwisha!

The internet, social media, and live events all share a common thread: they construct community. Community is precisely what today’s customer wants and expects. This is a great benefit for any smart brand. It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users. It took television 13 years. The internet, 4 years. However, it took Face book less than 9 months to reach 100 million users and a little over 5 years to reach 350 million!

It is not that traditional marketing is fading away and becoming extinct. Fact is, the way to reach consumers is evolving. Many are skeptical that Facebook, MySpace, and any other social mediums will become over saturated, if not already. As advertisers and companies try to catch up and flood the web with messages and securing their space and Twitter accounts, the evolution continues.

The question is what is the next big shift? I don’t think anyone knows for sure. However, I encourage this. Let’s study the trend. There is another marketing buzz word on the rise. Cause-related marketing!

This is far from new, but it has taken a new form. Companies now make it imperative to make a connection to the world and lives of their consumers. Having a cause-related strategy is no longer an opinion, but a requirement. Whether it is pink-branded products or wearing red shoe laces, consumers are paying a lot of attention to cause messages and as a result more likely to purchase. Market research conducted on the topic cited that 87 percent of US consumers would likely switch from one brand to another if the other brand was associated with a good cause.

In addition to creating the good in the lives of other, another growing segment, which is not new, but has yielded record breaking results and that, is events. Let’s take a look at the 2009 ESSENCE Music Festival for example. Last year’s event brought out nearly 480,000 people to New Orleans, LA. The brands and vendors had hands on experience with their consumers. The festival provided entertainment, community engagement, brand and celebrities interaction, and relationship building. Being present at events where your consumers are is a huge advantage and the brands become part of the consumer’s psyche.

You are probably asking, “What is the relationship between ESSENCE, Facebooking, and breast cancer awareness?” The answer is it is all about community. Consumers are people and the highest hierarchy of needs as people is self actualization. At the level of self-actualization, people are looking to solve problems and be part of solutions. In addition, people are comfortable in whom they are and self expression is ideal and essential. So no wonder a Facebook is so popular, it is a tool of self expression within a community of other individuals. The internet community has taken color, gender, and other demographics off the table. At the same time it allows a consumer to connect to whatever is important to them, find out more about it, blog about it, and connect/interact with others that feel the same. Events are an obvious assembly of consumers with similar interest, opinions, and attitudes, again a community.

So what’s next? Not too sure, but I know for sure that it is marketing communication vehicle that will continue to leverage community on a global scale.


One response to “Leveraging Social Media: Reaching the Consumer Through Community

  1. I wonder do you think companies find different rates of success on which social networking site they use to market with.

    I noticed on Twitter, for example, companies can use that site to put an actual person you can communicate with. I have had tweets with South West Airlines and Wirefly Cell Phones.

    Facebook, on the other hand, seems to be a place to receive information from a company, but their is not much interaction back and forth.

    Very good article!

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