The week of February 7-11, 2011, is Social Media Week around the world. So, in honor of Social Media Week, it’s a good time to see who participates as well as evaluate the impact of these users.
While the mainstream media gives the impression that celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, Lady Gaga, and the Kardashians set the tone for social media, that isn’t accurate. The amazing thing about social media is that anyone can set the tone – he or she doesn’t need a million fans or followers. Individuals who promote their personal brands or specialty areas and companies who promote their products or services set the tone. From Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to Flickr to Quora to del.icio.us to LinkedIn, anyone can share content or photos or video – and become an overnight sensation.
Television can be referred to as social media 1.0 because companies promote their brands with commercials and event sponsorships. Consider Geico insurance, Energizer batteries, Travelocity, Michelin tires, and Aflac insurance. These companies appear on a regular basis on television. Consumers recognize the brands and purchase the products. They identify with the brands and make the decision to become brand-loyal consumers or purchase similar products from competitors.
Enter Twitter and Facebook, which I call social media 2.0. Thanks to these two websites, consumers now have an opportunity to communicate with these companies in a much more personal level than ever before. Of course, in the past, people called a company’s toll-free number and waited on hold (on ignore) forever. But, due to Twitter and Facebook, customers can voice their complaints and positive experiences in real-time 24/7/365 – and resolve whatever issue is pending. And if an issue is not resolved, the world can and will hear about it immediately.
Another unique marketing result of social media 2.0 is that companies just don’t assign everyday employees to be their voices. Creativity is the name of the game with social media. Consider these product representatives: the Geico Gecko, the Energizer Bunny, Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome, the Michelin Man, and the Aflac Duck – all of these brand icons have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. Another interesting user of both Twitter and Facebook is Sue the T Rex, the largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil currently residing at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. By giving a voice to these icons, companies provide a way for customers to build relationships – and those relationships have the potential to create satisfied repeat customers.
So, does your company have a brand icon to engage new customers and retain existing customers in social media? If the answer is no, perhaps, it’s time to consider creating one.
Connect with these brand icons on Twitter and Facebook:
The Geico Gecko
Travelocity Roaming Gnome
Sue the T Rex