How Social has Changed Advertising Forever

Today, brands want to reach out and connect directly with their audience, bypassing everyone inbetween.  Social media has changed that relationship forever.  In the past, brands would create image advertising that they hoped would drive demand for their products at your local retailers; retailers would be the ones to establish and manage that relationship with you, the customer.  To make as many people aware of their products, brand would use broad reach advertising vehicles like TV and magazines, hoping that the many would walk into a store and buy their products. But by driving people into retail stores, or now online stores, brands ultimately lost that direct connection with you, their true customer.

Very few brands could afford to create and manage their own company branded retail stores.  Those that succeeded were able to keep that direct relationship with their customers, and develop a truly loyal set of customers.

Advertising is dead.  Long live advertising!

So what happened?  The rise of the social networks.  Over time, social sites like MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook have gathered millions and millions of  participants.  And wherever there are a lot of people, advertisers follow.  Eventually.  Okay, it takes brands quite a bit of time, but they get there.  Today, brands have their own following on Facebook, twitter, and now Pinterest.  These site allow brands to speak directly to real, live people.  And not just anyone, but people who have raised their hands and have said, “I am a fan of your brand.  I give you permission to speak direct to me, with me.”

This is huge for brands, and a huge shift in how they think and operate.  So much so, that with over 800 million users on Facebook today, major brands are just starting to understand this shift, and jumping in with their eyes wide open.  To help all the other million companies out there, Facebook recently held their first ever, Facebook Marketing Conference in NYC, and with Forrester Consulting, issued these recommendations found here.  Probably no coincidence that fMC was held in NYC, the heart of the ad agency world.

Catherine Taylors summary of Facebooks Connected Brand strategy in today’s Social Media Insider outlines FB’s recommendations:

1.  Articulate the brand’s social identity.

2.  Connect with your “best and most likely customers.”

3.  Engage “by making brand communications and content more personally relevant and participative.”

4.  Influence “people to share stories and messages about your brand.”

5.  Integrate “social into the brand and product experience.”

6.  Rejuvenate by “continuously monitor[ing] your brand’s health and improve the brand experience.”

Facebook defines the Connected Brand as one that “continuously connects and engages with people when they want, where they want, and how they want through social media.”  While I completely agree with the strategy, I don’t necessarily see that this connection is achieved only through social media.  Of course, Facebook may be a bit biased when drawing that conclusion; totally understandable and forgivable.

I believe this is a totally exciting time to be a part of this shift in how brands communicate with their fans.  It’s changing how brands think, and forcing them to evaluate whether the old ways of image advertising and the agencies that creates those campaigns are the right path for them today and in the future.

As a brand today, how would you incorporate this strategy for the Connected Brand.  And as a traditional advertising vehicle, how will you respond?

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