Building an audience from scratch and fostering meaningful conversations is intuitive and normal for individual people, but an obvious challenge for brands. From traditional marketing tactics to experiential, digital and word of mouth (including social media), marketers can’t sit idly by and just expect that their customers are engaged with their brand, or that most of them even want to engage. Yes, social media allows millions of active users globally to compete for attention, but if all of us are now publishers, who really listens?
Are we all slaves to our digital platforms? Or can we go back to the basics? Define your audience, reach out to them in person and online, engage them with what they like and want, ensure authentic conversation, create experiences and share products that relate to them so they not only stick around, they bring more people along with them.
As technologist and founder of Kapuno (an online community platform for niche discussions), Cyrus Radfar says in his recent post, "Social media isn’t going anywhere, but as it continues to get harder and harder to win the channels, the social proof communities can provide will help niche communities work together to spread the messages they decide are important through the more mass-market feeds." He closes with a call to action, "Find your community and help build it, because that is where the next generation is going when they realize that social media won’t afford them a voice."
In every conversation we have with our clients, whether we're in the "nice to meet you" phase, executing mid-program, or recapping our work, we consistently reinforce how an engaged community is crucial to a brand's Integrated Marketing Communications success.
Encouraging our clients to push through Integrated Marketing to what we coined as an Integrated Engagement Plan is an achievable goal if done right, and will complete the circle of consumer to advocate for a brand.
Integrated Marketing Communications:
Brand & Agency Collaboration
Aim: Ensure consistency of message & complementary media use
Marketing to Consumers
Integrated Engagement Plan:
Brand, Agency & Consumer Collaboration
Aim: Sustained "On-Brand" Conversation led by Advocates
Engagement, Amplification & Recruitment with Brand Advocates
Marketing with Consumers & Advocates
Community and audience building goes a long way when fostering authentic brand love. It also requires marketers to think and act differently, even in the planning stages.