Take a moment aside, bend your head over your laptop and log onto the internet highway and see the millions of people that have practically taken up residence on the digital landscape of this global village. The most lucrative and in-demand ‘estates’ are the popular blogs and social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Nairaland and Linda Ikeji Blog. Yes, a good percentage of Nigerians practically live online for half of the day – some three-quarters.
Next, raise your head and look around you at the hordes of people connected to the web, with their headphones plugged to their heads, their IPad, handsets and other mobile devices – in the meeting or conference hall, on the streets, on the highway. Everywhere!
Now, imagine you and your brand leaving outside this new planet where the new generation are migrated. You are right, you’ve missed the crowd if you’re not here. So let’s shift your brand messaging a little to accommodate this new amazing numbers: there are 1 billion active Facebook users every month, with each user spending an average of 6.32 hours on the social site. Instagram has over 200 million active users and over 16 billion photos shared. About 36% of 6 million active Twitter subscribers mainly use the app for business and personal purposes. And 31.1% of consumers say blogs influence their buying decisions.
Fact is: the new phenomenon of social media has become a vital part of the modern marketing mix, and building a strong and interactive brand online is a must for maximum brand exposure and awareness.
Another interesting stats is that more and more brand marketing managers are linking surges in sales and brand awareness to their increased online activity and presence. Maximising the advantage of social media in modern marketing comes with another perk: a human face for your brand.
Some Nigerian tech-savvy brands are constantly exploring the power of the social media platforms to take up prime residence in the hearts and minds of their target audience. Guaranty Trust Bank is arguably heads and shoulders above the rest with their ubiquitous presence on the web and have successfully increased positive brand perceptions and loyalty. The bank recently took its online brand strategy a notch higher with the launch of the ‘GTB SME MarketHub’ to help small businesses attain online presence and brand exposure.
The positive spiral effect on the millions of small business owners and their families can definitely guarantee them a large chunk of market. It’s no surprise it contributed to GTBank being recognised the ‘Best Bank in Nigeria’ and ‘Best Bank in Africa’ at the 2014 Euromoney Awards in London in July; in addition to a 7% growth in Half Year Gross Earnings report.
So if you and your brand are willing to take a cue, popular social media and blog sites offers a good platform to build a community relationship with your target market on the web and in addition helps you create brand ambassador volunteers. It comes with virtually limitless opportunity as happy customers who get their issues resolved tell an average of four to six people about their positive experiences. Some would even offer impromptu customer care services answer customer service questions posted online.
To ‘humanising’ your brand this way, you must learn the art of authenticity, and be genuine and passionate about what your brand is and does. You must also learn how to code switch – where necessary – from the strict business-speak of the real world to the interactive and less formal language of the virtual world of online marketing and brand messaging. The success level of your attempt to evolve a pleasant brand personality for your brand is also determined by how much you know and understand your online community so as connect with them on a one-to-one, human level, whether as housewives, students, family men or business professionals.