How to win friends and engage your brand circle
Digital marketers understand that there’s strength in numbers better than anyone. After all, in a world where a campaign’s success depends on 'buzz,' numbers are something brands live by, whether they’re spreading the word or planning new ways to engage fans and customers.
But strength in numbers is essential for building a reputation, too. Just look at Governor Chris Christie’s recent press disaster, 'Bridgegate.' At the first hint of scandal, his band of supporters, the Republican Party vanished.
But what if Bridgegate had happened just before the 2016 presidential election? Chances are, Christie would have been getting support left and right. (Well, maybe just from the right.)
At that point, his 'brand circle' (the Republicans) would have tried to win swing voters. And a group is more powerful than an individual, especially when you’re trying to convince people to believe you.
Brands are always striving to bring 'swing voters' over to their side. Who are swing voters for a brand? They’re the ones who are apathetic. They aren’t your fans, but they’re not your brand’s 'haters,' either.
If you decide to go after these individuals, you need a daring, thoughtful approach and the support of your brand circle.
Tapping into your network in your brand circle
Your brand circle is like a network of brands you rely on and that rely on you. These brands can be your vendors, customers, or even your competitors.
In the past, marketers used brand circles for co-marketing or partnership deals. This was no easy task. It involved micro-negotiation around every detail of messaging, and it took months to finish. In the end, brands were left with a heavily diluted message that wouldn’t offend fans, or convert anyone else. It’s no wonder that co-marketing deals have gone the way of dial-up Internet.
Here’s what’s in now: a dynamic, rapidly evolving digital relationship between businesses, forged to link your products with an integrated lifestyle and entertain your social media followers.
How to build your brand circle - fan connection
Credibility is key with a digital audience, and there’s no better way to convince someone that your product is worthwhile than having someone else talk about it.
Here are a few ways to begin building rapport with your brand circle and start tapping into that meaningful fan connection:
- Get in touch with your partners. Every company has a small group of important vendor partners. If your brand is dependent on them, then it makes sense to ensure that their marketing communications are shared as much as possible. Treat them well, and they’ll treat you well in return.
- Use your fans. Every brand has a small group of fans who will do almost anything to support the brand. Pick the ones with the widest social influence, let them know you’re launching a campaign, and ask them to retweet or share to get the word out.
- Find relevant voices. Use social media tools to find the celebrities, musicians, or sports figures that your followers admire. Then, partner with these people for even more authentic, meaningful reach. But make sure the celebrity you choose fits your fans. CMT actually lost money by paying Shaq for a tweet. Shaq is great, but he’s not even close to the highest-ranking celebrity among CMT fans.
- Make competition mutually beneficial. Take the high road when it comes to competition by embracing it. When you share your competitors’ tweets and updates, you’re projecting supreme confidence to swing voters and showing them that you’re an industry leader.
Benefits of finding your circle
By finding your brand circle and incorporating it into your campaign, you can add velocity to your marketing. Here are four ways your brand can benefit:
- 1. The cost is very low, if not free. Retweets are free. As are other social shares. If you pursue your loyal fans and ask them to share your campaign message, they will likely participate for free. If they do, your message will spread like wildfire.
- 2. Your message is more credible. When someone outside your company promotes your message, people will listen. This is critical for those skeptical brand swing voters.
- 3. The results are fast. One of the perks of social media is instant gratification. When your fans start sharing your campaign, you’ll see your reach amplify in real time.
- 4. It’s easy. Because this marketing strategy has little to no cost, it can oftentimes be executed without executive approval.
Working Together in social media
No one’s isolated on social media. That’s why you have to start by reaching out to other people.
Companies like DataSift, one of the two remaining 'pure play' social data platforms, power the most innovative enterprises and application software companies. DataSift invented an entirely new business model based on social data, and it spread the word by sponsoring major events, like Social Data Week, while promoting its clients.
CEO Rob Bailey put it best when he said, 'The social media ecosystem that is developing is like social media itself: highly networked and intertwined…the eventual size of the industry will be driven by how successfully we work together.'
Working together: That’s how you build your brand and get other companies to help you do it.
If you’re wondering how to motivate those in your brand circle to reciprocate, the answer is simple: Don’t! Just make the first move. Then, sit back and watch how your gesture is received, and always respond with kindness (even if it’s as simple as 'congrats' or 'thank you').
Wondering why this works? Well, think about all the posts and tweets you’ve shared that have gotten zero response. (This happens to everyone who’s not a major celebrity, by the way.) No one likes that feeling, and having someone respond is enough to make a difference and begin building a mutually beneficial relationship.
Remember, the faster your brand reaches out, the closer you are to building even stronger rapport with your brand circle and fans. Someone has to be the first to reach out, so don’t wait.