Admakers and brands have increasingly become vocal about the importance adding a human touch to brands and their campaigns. All are eyeing the potential rewards of building a more personalized and engaging brand. In this context, social media is clearly becoming key to all communication channels.
Consumers, usually, form a more favourable impression of brands that are open to conversations, and questions. Brands are increasingly being judged on the basis of their relevance.
According to a Cognizant report, analytics help brands create new value with customers. But to make value sustainable, marketers have to embrace a dramatic shift, moving away from traditional campaigns and 15- or 30-second spots to the far more fluid application of insights from today’s 24x7 streams of information.
When asked how brands could become a part of social media conversations, Deepak Jolly, Vice-President, Public Affairs & Communication, Coca Cola India and South West Asia, shared the example of Coke Zero’s launch in India which was distributed exclusively through Amazon. “It created the required buzz. In 48 hours, about 100,000 cans were ordered,” he said.
“When brands start focusing on consumers' expressions and not their impression, that is when they are adding value to brand conversations. What is important for the brands is to look at the kind of conversations that are happening, analyze how they fit in to it, engage with the consumers, and then think of ways to surprise them,” he added.
Vikas Mehta, CMO, Lowe Lintas & Partners and ED, LinInteractive, said, “The fundamental change we have observed over past half a decade almost on steroids is brands no longer have the authority to engineer the conversation...because now the conversations are happening with or without the brands. This fundamental shift has changed the way of brand building.”
“Brands cannot engineer conversations anymore. The onus is on brands to find conversation and build on it. Lifebuoy played a role in creating conversation around health by picking on a subject of infant mortality. But it was not a CSR activity. Rather, it was a brand building activity, which led to sales,” he pointed out.
“Brands are no longer heroes. The conversations are happening with or without brands. Each brand needs to find a relevant topic where it can fit in, and should not force-fit itself into a conversation,” said Vivek Nayer, CMO, Mahindra & Mahindra.
Rahul Welde, Vice President – Media for Asia, Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Russia, at Unilever, said, “It is extremely important to have conversations with a fit-of-purpose. Content, while important, should be real, engaging and meaningful.”
George Kovoor, Senior Creative Director, OgilvyOne, said, "People join only those conversations, where brands are telling a story which is real and touches their heart. Content is really important for everything that brands do. When brands create content that is real, engaging and relevant, then conversations start pouring in from everywhere—you get amazing user generated content, which becomes an interesting story to share with people. The onus is not just with the brand for content creation but with users, who are actually consuming the content.
Anita Nayyar, CEO India and South Asia, Havas Media, said, “Brands can do a lot more only if they pick up an insight which is relevant for their brand, and start conversations around them, they will realize they are being able to create more value for themselves as well as the consumers.”