Want Results? Create Relationships, Say Experts at BrandConnect:12

October 24, 2012

Social media has transformed the ways that brands can connect with customers – but do these relationships actually impact marketplace success? At BrandConnect:12, held earlier this month in New York, brands and marketers tackled this question and shared ideas for reaping real benefits from their investment in social media. Here are some of the key takeaways:

The ‘audience’ is ending: Internet thought leader and TED speaker Clay Shirky told attendees in his keynote presentation that consumers no longer sit on the sidelines, passively absorbing content being pushed to them by brands. Now brands must deal with a “chaotic landscape” in which consumers are producers and distributors of information, Shirky said. Brands need to understand and respect the motivations of these new players in order to build relationships. Watch the keynote:

Social media is transforming the organization: The power of social media can be harnessed across the organization, not just by the marketing team.  Online relationships with customers can come from many parts of a company, and proper training can make the most of these interactions. At Dell, all employees are social media-trained in order to make them comfortable representing the company, explained Richard Margetic, Dell’s director of global social media. Margetic joined marketing leaders from Citi and Havas Worldwide Digital on a panel, “Redefining Relevance: Content Marketing in a Social Context”. Watch it here.

Customers want content: Brands should feed the need of social network users for content that keeps them engaged, said David Hahn, vice president of product management for LinkedIn. Hahn pointed out that LinkedIn members are five times more likely to use the network for professional content and insights than for job-hunting.  They’ve joined 1.4 million LinkedIn groups with 40 million members; they send out 4 million LinkedIn Endorsements daily; and they’ve uploaded 10 million presentations to LinkedIn’s SlideShare community.

Members invest time on professional networks: Brands should keep in mind that there are big differences between personal and professional networks, explained Nick Nyhan, chief digital officer at Kantar, and Christina Jenkins, EMEA insights lead for LinkedIn. While consumers merely spend time on personal networks, they “invest” their time on professional networks, said Nyhan and Jenkins, offering details from LinkedIn’s recent “Mindset Divide” research report.

Listen before you leap: Social media strategy starts with paying attention to customers and community members, said Gadi BenMark, senior VP of client services for NM Incite. A “listening exercise” lets brands determine informational and emotional needs of key groups, so that you can meet these needs and build stronger relationships.

Reach customers mid-funnel: By the time potential customers get to the point where they seek contact with your brand online, they’re already 57% through the purchase path, explained Mike Grishaver, senior product manager of marketing solutions for LinkedIn, and Marc Bishop, LinkedIn’s director of global marketing for marketing solutions. Therefore, brands need to tailor their conversations so that they’re more relevant to an audience that’s narrowing the consideration set mid-funnel.

If you didn’t get the chance to attend BrandConnect:12, watch the presentations on our Slideshare channel.