In this regard, social-media is gaining a huge momentum, and brands of different sizes and from different industries want to capitalize on it.
Coupled with the obvious steer towards digital of many brands in various industries that were previously not that present in the digital realm, the context became, yet again, highly focused on what social is or could be.
- Gaining new customers
- Solidifying brands’ trust
- Driving business objectives
The “all of us” mindset
The concept of community in itself derives from the understanding of what is common, shared and appreciated by a group of people.
Partaking in communities is ingrained in our human DNA and arguably stands as a pre-condition of our surviving, developing and potential reaching.
Social media platforms tapped into that embedded dimension of our referring towards others, and the overall explosive success they have can be attributed, among other things, to a certain degree of innovation & novelty layered upon the eternal togetherness instinct/ appetency.
With platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or LinkedIn, the individual has the ability to choose their own affiliation: we talk about the opportunity to (re)build one’s own identity, regardless of inherited affiliations to traditional communities (family, city, country, dominating culture, inherited spiritual beliefs etc.).
Acting upon one’s free will when it comes to belonging into certain communities is both enticing and can bring a sum of advantages in different areas of life - work, personal relationships, transgressing of objective limitations, access to knowledge, and so on.
I perceive therefore I am
On the consumer part, the social aspect is generally definable by three main components:
- Emotional (feelings, moods) – suggests that people experience certain emotions about an object and, as a result, form an assessment of this object (evaluative component);
- Rational (cognitive) – people's knowledge about a particular fact, event, reality (brand knowledge);
- Behavioral - reflects the readiness of people to act in one way or another in accordance with the emotions they experience about the object and its assessment, as well as the actual actions that are a choice.
All components are interconnected and able to influence each other. Based on this, psychological science highlights the following features of an effective brand community:
- Sharing of brand values - the brand is not just popular, but a shared symbol in a society;
- Brand assimilation - the buyer begins to associate the branded offer with himself and replaces some of the personal communications with the help of symbolic messages of the brand;
- Identical associative array - within the monogenic target audience are the same type of associations generated by brand attributes. The main task is to create a persistent idea about the brand among the entire population of consumers who are not limited by gender, age or national characteristics;
- Emotional dominant of choice - when choosing a branded product, the main stimulating factor is the existing image, and not functional characteristics. The emotional connection of the brand with the consumer makes the relationship stable and original.
A brand is a social entity and, as a result, has an emotional basis shared by current or potential consumers. There are four components that create the emotional basis of the brand:
1. Individuality - all external and internal value elements of the brand that bring the consumer closer to the brand. Often, a brand borrows its personality from the corresponding characteristics of the target audience, which helps to build a relationship with the brand as with another person.
2. Dominant feature - even if the brand is created as a social entity, it is based on products or services. Thus, the aim is to highlight the fundamental characteristics of the products or services, from which the character of the brand is formed. Without this component, the brand image is blurry.
3. Image - at each contact with the brand, the consumer forms his own perceptions and associations. Thus, it is important to keep the same image with which the consumer interacts. Here we are talking about all the components: communication, content, promotion methods and community management.
In a nutshell, it's called “social perception”. Involuntary analysis of a brand by the consumer involves a complex process of receiving and transforming information through emotional, rational and behavioral reflection, which forms a subjective holistic image. In this case, the influencers are the ones who create the right “social perception” between the consumer and the brand.
In terms of nativeness, influencers are more usual than direct advertising. Product promotion isn't the same as advertising. An influencer is a consumer's friend who simply promotes products, locations, and activities that he/she enjoys. Advertising becomes ingrained in the content, and the consumer accepts it easier.
How to create and develop content to match brands needs and inspire an audience
- Start from the obvious common ground: common interest your brand promotes and shares with your audience.
- Move further into fulfilling your audience's needs by answering the frequently asked questions and all the others for that matter.
- Inform your audience as timely and exhaustive as possible, without overdoing it.
- In terms of how you address the audience, make sure you keep on a friendly base and avoid sounding fake or appearing vain. Level the playing field with your community and they will feel more bound to share and connect with you.
- Keep transparency in focus, with everything you communicate, especially when you need to address aspects that might not be ideal - negative feedback, issues, backlash for who knows what reasons - consult with the PR department but stay true to your values and transparent, open approach.
- Try identifying segments of your audience and target them specifically within your content. If you have data to rely on while segmenting the public, use it, if not, try to gather it by asking questions.
- Have in mind that too much of anything is gonna eventually saturate your audience’s receptivity and so you must balance the main directions of communication wisely, without overdoing it. Attention and engagement are your commodity, and you need to respect it so that the members of your audience and future community feel that respect.
- Last but not least, let yourself try out new things, test and innovate as much as possible. There will always be a couple of aspects that make you unique and attractive, and in time you will know them and be able to put them forward. There is no single recipe for success whilst there are so many out-there that will claim to be the one.
Speaking of recipes, we also have one to show for, in respect to the fact that social-media communities are built consciously, with the extremely relevant help & knowledge of those who did that already (plus with patience and grit).
e.l.f. Cosmetics - the squad for promoting cosmetic beauty
The company is building their community around micro-influencers. The cosmetics brand e.l.f. Cosmetics is united by the Beauty Squad loyalty program. Brand “lives” by squad rules: it supports clients, reposts photos of their make-up to their accounts, organizes master classes and beauty parties.
Ambassadors of e.l.f. Cosmetics are not celebrities, but micro-influencers, including regular clients. The retailer found “their own” bloggers by organizing a contest in social networks: the clients were offered to publish photos of the make-up made by the brand's cosmetics. Fifty winners were invited to a beauty weekend where they tested new products, attended make-up master classes, got to know each other and the team. Collaboration with influencers has expanded the brand's community through the community of each of them: the number of followers in e.l.f. Cosmetics increased by 25%.
YOXO - 100% digital, data-driven and community conscious mobile subscription
YOXO is the first all-digital mobile subscription with no contractual commitments in Romania. Accessed via a mobile app, it uses a prepaid model but is actually subscription based, requiring monthly payments depending on usage.
YOXO appealed to Mira & Dorian - local influencers with a steady and active community of followers and asked them to have fun while introducing the new feature to their communities. And so they did, by challenging each other.
To complement the MGM feature and influencers’ creative efforts, the online marketing strategy focused on welcoming users inside the funnel & further informing them about the offer/ benefits of YOXO.
Furthermore, by employing specific targeting performance marketing strategies, YOXO was able to capture a new segment of the prospective audience and thus generate a spike in the majority of the metrics analyzed - overall, interactions measured up to more than 600k + traffic - a strong boost in awareness.
One of the metrics that point to a fruitful and effective approach is the search intent that measured a 20% increase for the “YOXO” keyword, in the timeframe following the influencers campaign.
Perhaps the most important idea we can derive from the analysis above is that social dynamics are ever-changing and full of potential for innovation and creativity. No one would have predicted the stellar rising of TikTok, or anticipated a global pandemic that would make online social interactions the norm. And yet, here we are, in full throttle, users, brands, specialists and enthusiasts alike, acting out our fundamental impulse - to be social and to spread the word about what we like and have to give others.
- Charles Young, Brian Gillespie, Christian Otto, ”The Impact of Rational, Emotional, And Physiological Advertising Images On Purchase Intention”, Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 59, No. 3, September, 2019.
- Kevin Lane Keller, ”Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Managing Customer-Based Brand Equity”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 57, No. 1, January, 1993, pp. 1-22.
- David Aaker, ”Dimensions of Brand Personality”, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 4, No. 3, 1997, pp. 347-356.