Written by Masters Student
Internet used to be a one-way dialogue where companies had the power to control the information that was out there for customers to read. However, when web 2.0 launched in 2005 everything changed. Internet was no longer a place only used for sharing information; it was now an open dialogue where customers were given the opportunity to respond and give feedback to the given information. The transition from web 1.0 to web 2.0 brought major changes, everything became transparent, and hence companies did no longer have the power to decide what information to share. If companies want to reach out to their customers and boost their brand they need to create an online campaign. The aim of this paper is therefore to look at how companies can and should utilize social medias in the best way.
According to Atkinson (2013) brands that do not boost their brands through different social medias are beyond doubt missing out on great opportunities. Not only is most of it for free, it has also been proven that creating an online campaign is the best approach to reach out to the younger generation of customers. Papasolomou and Melanthiou (2012), claims that “traditional” marketing as we know it is phasing out, and being replaced by social medias. However, companies that are active and successful with social media are well aware that is time consuming and requires knowledge. There are two types of audiences when dealing with social medias; the first one is the people viewing your activities online, the future customers. The second one is the “robots”, the search engine optimization, which decides where your posts end up (Atkinson, 2013).
Atkinson (2013) argues that a common mistake a good number of companies do when trying to boost their brands by engaging in different social medias is that they want to be everywhere, witch often leads to doing a bit of everything without a real plan or focal point. Atkinson (2013) claims that it is a far better strategy to start out by focusing on a few forums and doing it properly. In 2011 the biggest online social networking site Facebook, reached over 650 million members (Soares, 2012). It is therefore crucial for companies to understand the impact and reach social networks retain.
Word-of-Mouth, (WOM) is an influential interaction tool where customers talks about products, services and companies. This is done in a non-commercial form where the purpose is to encourage or discourage people to spend money or time on for instance certain brands.
Brand communities are online forums where loyal customers to a certain brand can connect and share an interest for the company. There are also a variety of so-called Anti-branding sites where people can focus negative attention on certain targeted brands (Krishnamurthy & Kucuk, 2009). Web 2.0 allowed people to communicate with anybody how is in the possession of a computer whether it is in you city or across the world. Word-of-Mouth, (WOM) has therefore received a whole new meaning (Soares, 2012).
The drastic change Internet has experienced over the last few years has led to customers playing an important role concerning the brand building process. Christodoulides, (2009) claims that the role of the online brand manager has shifted from being a “guardian” to becoming more of a “host” for the brand.
Boyd and Ellison (2007) define social medias, as platforms were people create their own profiles and share personal information with other users. Many consumers’ turns to social networks to find people with similar interests and as a quest in finding community and a feeling of belongingness. The actions that takes place in these forums often involves sharing photos, videos, links, and personal information. This is all dependent on trust, Grabner-Krauter (2009) claims that users of social networking sites feel that they can rely and depend on these sites and are thus willing to share as much information as they do.
Companies often use the social medias to boost their brands and to satisfy their customers (Barwise & Meehan, 2010). Crews et al (2012) did a research on the use of Social medias in the restaurant industry and they came across some interesting facts. For instance that Americans feel a stronger connection to companies that are active on different Social Medias. One important aspect for companies to use social medias and different forums is according to Barwise and Meehan (2010) the immediate response they can receive from their customers. Monitoring, identifying and influencing the companies reputation online, so called online reputation management (ORM), is therefore a crucial strategy when trying to boost your brand (InteractMaketing, 2014).
Scandals and rumours that leaks can have devastating effects for any brand no matter the size or power it may have. A well-known Swedish plastic surgery clinic had false rumours appear online in 2009. Within hours the rumours were all over the Internet and people were very engaged in the matter. Even though this rumour was completely false, the company had to spend a great amount of money and time to respond to these false accusations (Sasserson, 2010). People are becoming more likely to read the latest news online instead of purchasing paper magazines, it is therefore crucial for companies to know how to deal with complains and scandals on the Internet. However, if companies can manage do deal with these scandals in the right way it may even play in their advantage. They may then be considered a conscious responsible company.
According to Sassersson (2010) a great amount of people turn to Google when they want information concerning anything and everything. Knowledge is power, and Google possesses huge power and influence over people’s perception of things. Google is an expert at collecting available information from the blogosphere and online newspapers and provide people links to these sites. According to Sasserson (2010) 90 percent of people, only tend to read the links provided on the first page of Google. Companies therefore spend a great majority of time and money to make sure that bad publicity ends up on the second page, so called Search Engine Optimization, SEO.
Procter & Gamble, a company well aware of the impact social media possesses, created in 2009 a very successful online campaign together with the advertising bureau, Saatchi & Saatchi to promote their female shaving products from Gillette, Venus (Ads of the World, 2013).
The company realized that sales in the Swedish market for female razors dropped remarkably during the winter due to the wheatear. They created an online campaign called “Tag the weather” where Swedes could post pictures of the cold Swedish winter and win a trip to the sun. The campaign became very successful, shaving products increased but most importantly they managed to create a great awareness to the brand. The campaign reached out to 91 percent of Swedish females within the age’s 18- 35 on Facebook and Instagram. Saatchi & Saatchi was additionally rewarded with first price at the annual Bees Awards in San Francisco Resumé, 2013).
This form of advertising, were companies engage their customers is very smart and done right it often becomes very profitable. In the online campaign “Tag the weather” Procter and Gamble are not showing any prices, promoting their products or badmouthing other brands all they are doing is creating a fun competition that people like to engage in. And since people find it fun they want to share it with friends and family, and that is how the company receives free publicity. This type of advertising creates far more engagement from their customers then any newspaper ad or radio commercial. That is why companies tend to abandon the so-called “traditional” commercial forums such as TV, radio newspapers where companies “rent an audience”. And why should they rent an audience when they can reach out to their target group in a better, smarter way by them selves.
YouTube, the worlds largest online video sharing site launched in 2005, and has had a huge success ever since (Dickey, 2013). A company that recently reached an immense popularity through this channel is the Car manufacturing company Volvo. They used the Belgian actor Jean-Claude van Damme, and had him perform an amazing stunt witch they put into a commercial. After the clip was launched it spread on YouTube and received close to 70 million hits (YouTube, 2013). People started talking about it and shared the clips with their friends on Facebook and other channels. Through some smart clips and YouTube, Volvo received a huge amount of publicity and was able to change the way people perceived the Company.
This paper has shown a few companies that have become very successful through the use of social media and creating online campaigns. It has been proven that campaigns through social media have a greater impact then ”traditional” ones. However, companies need to acquire the knowledge on how to use these medias to their advantage, and the companies that succeed will reach great success. If companies want to reach out to their customers, boost their brands and be forces to be reckoning with in the future they need to start creating online campaigns.
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