Do Fans Still Matter? Or Why Fans Still Matter
The social marketing landscape has undergone huge shifts in recent years. When social media first received marketing attention, interest centred on the social aspect of platforms, in particular the ability to cultivate and engage with organic communities. But, recently as more media capabilities have emerged, too has the emphasis on social as a true media channel. With algorithms calling the shots, platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are emphasizing paid campaigns over maintaining an organic presence and optimizing for engagement has taken a back seat to more traditional media metrics like reach and conversion.
This begs the question: in an environment where social channels are behaving more and more like mass media channels and marketers have to pay up even to reach their existing audiences, do social “fandoms” still matter?
YES. Sure, fans may make up a smaller segment of a brand’s total potential audience or even customer base, but they are an extremely valuable segment because they are more likely to exhibit higher value social behaviours beyond views and likes. If activated correctly, fans will take first-person action on a brand’s behalf whether it’s creating positive mentions, brand-relevant UGC or providing insight to inspire broader efforts – all of which can drive successful marketing efforts beyond an individual piece of content or social campaign.
Taco Bell did a good job of recognising audience activation opportunities in the launch of its Waffle Taco, a key item in the breakfast offering. When the product was tested in a local shop, an excited fan posted an Instagram photo, which quickly spread buzz amongst the broader fanbase. Noting this, Taco Bell took things a step further when it came time to rollout nationally and delivered the new item in an Instagram-worthy package, encouraging UGC in support of the launch. Given that 90% of consumers trust peers for recommendations, these kinds of actions can be significant in encouraging trial for a new product.
Denny's is a Social Media MVP that understands the importance of feeding its social audience the smart, savvy content they crave. The brand boasts an extremely popular and engaged Twitter presence and is the #1 brand on Tumblr, with top posts generating up to 100,000 reblogs without the support of paid media. Not surprisingly, the majority of the thousands of mentions pertaining to Denny’s in the social space aren’t customer service questions or complaints, but rather fans expressing love for the brand’s content in the form of shares, positive mentions and even intent to purchase (some even going as far as posting pictures of themselves visiting a diner in appreciation for particularly good posts). These actions not only contribute to positive social share of voice for the brand but can help support quality perceptions among consumers as well.
Cutting edge plant-based beverage brand, Califia Farms, frequently taps its audience for intel and inspiration in product development. Fan love surrounding their 10.5 oz Salted Caramel Cold Brew inspired them to develop 40 oz. multiserve version, which was then re-marketed to their fan base to drive purchase. Not only that, fan excitement and appreciation for the new sku helped demonstrate consumer demand to retailers, leading to greater distribution, more customers and, more new fans.
So, while social media platforms will continue to grow their capabilities in support of broader marketing and campaign objectives, we can’t forget that one of the things that sets social apart from other channels are the communities that form there. The ability to access those communities and then activate them and their networks can reap long-term benefits for brands in social and beyond.
Genre: People , Strategy/Insight