Every person, journalist, blogger is talking about the evolution of media. Traditional means of communication have been turned upside down and shaken up. Social media is now becoming the norm, changing the way that we view information distribution. As advertisers, this change has a huge affect on what we do. We are constantly learning how to incorporate this change into our clients’ brands.
Years ago (or maybe even just one year ago), branding and messaging were entirely in control of the advertiser. The message was displayed how, when and with whatever messaging the advertiser deemed necessary. The ad men formed meaning behind a brand, telling consumers what to think. Consumers were a passive audience that were receptors to those messages. Unfortunately for traditionalists, social media killed the brand hero.
With the increasing use of social networking sites and online communities, communication has changed. That changed created a need for advertisers to adapt, learning to really listen to the voice of their consumers to help mold a brand. These consumers are no longer strictly targets of advertising messages; they now play an active role in the brands they associate with.
This social voice also allows for trust to be generated between consumers and the brand. For years, people have either hated or distrusted advertisers and the messages they present; they think that advertisers lie. Embracing consumers’ interaction and engagement with a brand can help get to the truth, or clear the air, if you will, about what something really is. And while advertisers can still create strong strategy and messaging for a brand, this interaction creates a unique equation. Given the opportunity to complain, give feedback, or praise a product or company, consumers are given an environment to be heard. This interaction with the brand gives such meaning to the brand itself that the two cannot be separated.
Take Zappos.com for example. The site has become so much more than just an online place to buy shoes. Their use of social networking sites like Twitter has helped mold their brand image. Their shoes, social media policies, and internal culture go hand in hand; they have become inseperable.
Bringing the social voice into a brand can be a scary thing. But with the input of a consumer community, brands can adapt and become further defined, taking on new or deeper meanings that are linked directly to the consumer. The brand, once completely controlled by the advertiser, is now a social brand that results from advertisers and consumers meeting somewhere in the middle. And ultimately, isn’t that what we should have been going for the entire time?