Theonline social media has captured brand communication and brandmanagement. Apart from classical and traditional media comprisingmainly of the TV and the print, the brand managers are currentlyprovided with several other options. Indeed, the globalizationphenomenon has captured the attention of every sector which includesmarketing and promotional campaigns for small and big brands (Mead &Andrews, 2009). All have avenues to demonstrate creativity andinnovations in brand management.
Thispaper discusses the integral roles that the online social media playsin brand management and communication. The definition of onlinesocial media is articulately made for a clear understanding. Theopportunities availed by the social media to brand management andcommunications are discussed in length. The challenges encountered inthe use of online social media in brand management are alsoevaluated. The differences between the online social brand andclassical brand communication are described too.
Onlinesocial media consists of all aspects of electronic conversations suchas social networking and blogging (Blanchard, 2011). In the socialcommunication, the users converge into online groups or communitieswhere they share and exchange information, ideas, privateinformation, audio and video messages. Online social media isinternet- ran and mostly through the use of the cellular phonealthough all types of computers are used too.
Theinteraction on the social media platforms includes famous sites suchas Facebook and Twitter. There is also the use of blogs, articles,and news events (Close, 2012). Also, there are other applications,usually on cellular phones where individual exchange numbers and forminteraction communities and groups for purposes of exchange ofinformation. One main characteristic of the online social media isthat it is an interactive media and network- based where people shareboth public and private information. People are known to meet onsocial media and become gaming partners to an extent of engaging inchess and other online games. The online platform is providing a pasttime avenue and its taking over the role of traditional platformssuch as the TV (Blanchard, 2011).
Thesocial media is also community driven in the sense that the membersshare common aspects of their lives such as membership of clubs. Thegroups consist of members who share common beliefs and have elementsof the social fabric that join them. Customs, cultures, and beliefsalso bind some of the communities on the social media. The socialmedia thrive on relationships. The connection of online communitymembers is dependent on the number of relationships they have withthe social media to the extent that the higher the number of bonds,the more the influence they are likely to command on the network(Mead & Andrews, 2009).
Unlikethe traditional websites that only provided information, the socialmedia has an emotive element where members of the networks areattached to the community. There is, therefore, an entrenched systemwhere members support each other even when they are going throughhard times. Through sharing and support systems, they can lessenemotional burdens.
Theemergence of the social media platform has provided brand managerswith a broad range of opportunities that could be exploited topopularize their brands. To overcome competition and win theconfidence of the customers, the brand managers could usefully employthe broad reach of the social media to enhance their endeavors andobjectives. One of the opportunities provided to brand managers bythe social media is that the managers can discover the perceptions ofthe consumers without having to invest in expensive research andsurveys (Kapferer, 2012). The brand management team can discernperceptions that consumers have about their products. The managersare also able to tell the attributes and features consumers value inbrands and even can recognize the changes in the perceptions
Theonline social media platform provides the brand managers with anopportunity to gather intelligence on views of all related brands inthe market (Goldman, 2013). The brand managers are supplied with anopportunity to assess the degree of market information that consumershave and hence enable the managers to gauge their brands againstothers in the market. The brand managers can analyze the onlineconversations and hence make necessary adjustments or improvements.
Thebrand managers are provided with an opportunity to evaluate theimpact of their brands against other brands in the industry (Goldman,2013). They are supplied with an opportunity to understand theterrain in which their brands are operating. It provides the managerswith an excellent platform to gauge the performance of their brandsand even evaluate the performance of entire markets. The brandmanagers are supplied with the opportunity to assess the impact theirbrands are having in the entire industry.
Throughthe online social media, the brand managers are supplied with anopportunity to weigh their brand potential (Goldman, 2013). Byassessing the number of people or groups in the social media that arediscussing a particular brand, the brand managers can tell the marketviability of their brands. Such information could be applied bymanagers of new brands to commercialize them. The brand managerscould also understand the behavior of the target market and hencedesign their campaigns and advertisements based on that information.
Thesocial media platform has provided the brand managers with anopportunity to assess the emotions of the consumers about theirbrands. Both negative and positive expressions provided from customerfeedbacks about particular brands provide an excellent avenue toweigh elicited emotions (Kapferer, 2012). It depends on the kind ofemotions that a certain brand evokes which lead to emergence ofopportunities for online brand consultation
Theonline social media provides brand managers with information thatinspire them to them to develop programs to acquire and retaincustomers. The information that consumers provide about image brandsprovides excellent feedback mechanisms so that the brand managers canexactly tell the expectations of the consumers. The brand managerscan understand what motivates the consumers about the brands andhence can respond appropriately through effective brandingstrategies.
Thebrand managers are provided with an opportunity to learn thedifference between their brands and related brands in the market andhence respond appropriately (Kapferer, 2012). They are also suppliedwith an opportunity to tell what appeals other brands possess whichprovide them with an opportunity for brand improvement. The brandmanager can determine why the consumers favor competitors brand andeven how they would react to introductions of new brands into themarket.
Withthe use of the online social media, the brand managers are providedwith an opportunity to assess the relationships that consumers haveformed about each of the brands by the same company or manufacturer.Such information is necessary to brand managers who are planningbrand extensions in future (Goldman, 2013). The higher the positiveperception of the relationship of the existing brands, the more theprobability of success of an intended brand extension. A strongerrelationship between well-performing brands would be a good reasonfor brand managers to make a brand extension (Mead & Andrews,2009).
Theonline social media provides the brand managers with opportunities toposition themselves better, based on the perceptions and the needs ofthe customers. The information gathered is valuable to provideefficient framework and basis for brand managers to place theirproducts in the current competition in the industry. The opportunityto understand the expectations of the consumers presents aninvaluable resource for the brand managers.
Theonline social media platform assists the brand managers to plan andlaunch successful rebranding campaigns to improve the perception oftheir brands (Goldman, 2013). The managers are provided with therequire tools that could deliver tangible results based on theresponses acquired from the consumers. Proper analysis of the socialmedia can be employed to drive a rebranding strategy to realign thebrand with the expectations o the consumer. Such procedures are vitalin re-engineering the brand images and enhancing brand identities(Mead & Andrews, 2009).
Theinformation gathered from the online social media provides the brandmanagers with opportunities to identify and follow reputational risksto their brands. Through analyzing the communication trends of theconsumers, brand managers can tell unfavorable discussions related totheir brands some of which could spill over to other of their brandsor products (Goldman, 2013). The social media, therefore, providesthe brand managers with a platform to track down such reputationalrisks and put in place measures to manage them.
Thebrand managers can acquire vital information and evaluate sponsorshipselections. In the marketing or advertisement campaigns, the brandmanagers can select the most famous celebrities based on theperceptions of the online social media (Mead & Andrews, 2009).Such celebrations are those who could make an appeal to the targetedconsumer audience. Such celebrities also determine brandassociations, whose information is all gathered from the onlinesocial media.
Theonline social media provide the brand managers with opportunities todevelop and implement brand winning strategies (Goldman, 2013). Thatis a great asset considering the complicated nature of uniting theentire management portfolio. It provides the brand managers with anassessment tool to determine where more energy and resources need tobe directed to create a winning brand. It helps the brand managers oninformation gathering about areas that require more marketingresources and investments to enhance image and brand equity.
Despitethe many opportunities that the online social media provides to brandmanagers, the platform has challenges which are not easy to overcome.One of the greatest challenges that the social media poses to thebrand managers is transparency. It`s quite challenging for the brandmanagers to cope with the response demanded by a consumer public thatrequires every detail of information at all times. It requires a highlevel of honesty and diligence. The ability to provide every piece ofinformation as could be required by anyone is demanding in terms oftime and energy. It requires a high-level commitment by the brandmanagers and other employees (Kapferer, 2012). Consumers demandattention all times of the day or night which may not be easilyfulfilled. Sometimes it may not be possible to reveal every piece ofinformation as requested by the clients, a fact which could influencebrand perceptions and hence affect the brand images.
Thebrand managers are also faced with the challenges to determine whichkind of information about their brands they should respond to orignore. That is informed by the fact that there are more customersthan employees on the social media and, therefore, the brand managersare faced with the challenge of scaling information to determinewhich warrants a response (Blanchard, 2011). There is someinformation that is, of course, more important than others, and thatmay not be very easy to identify on the social media platform. Thebrand managers are compelled to come up with measures to sieveinformation which is not easy and could be detrimental to the brandimage. Sometimes that forces the brand managers to select the numberof services and platforms they use so that they use only those thatcan be managed efficiently (Kapferer, 2012). For example, the brandmanager could opt to use either Facebook or Twitter but not both, sothat they are better placed to respond to the needs of the customers.
It`sextremely hard for brand managers to determine the tools to use tomeasure the effectiveness of the social media in the assessment oftheir brands (Goldman, 2013). The social media provide a headache tothe brand managers on the tools to use in data tracking, analysis,assessment and control of information about their brands. The lack ofclear guidelines on the kind of instruments to adopt is a greatchallenge to the brand managers, considering that all aspectsmentioned are crucial in the brand management (Blanchard, 2011).However, research continues to be conducted by technological expertsin brand management so that companies don`t waste energy andresources in trying to come up with practical tools to serve thepurpose.
Anothermajor challenge that the social media poses to the brand managers isa lack of enough revenue generation (Close, 2012). Despite the highdemands that the social media demands regarding attention andresponse, it is only the revenues generated that count. If certainbrands don`t generate revenues that are proportional to the resourcesallocated to the function, owners and shareholders start askingquestions about the viability and usefulness of the platform(Blanchard, 2011). Although some brands have generated massiveprofits from the use of the social media, others continue to struggledespite the broad reach provided by the platform.
Thebrand managers are also faced with the challenge of cultivatinglong-lasting relationships. From research conducted, it has beenfound that personal relationships are much more important thanone-off sales. Such relationships install long lasting loyalty andpromote brand identity, unlike short-term sales that endeavor to makeshort time gains (Close, 2012). The focus on quick sales could bemisleading as eye-catching international brands are known forcultivating close relationships over long periods.
Differencesbetween Online Social Communication and Classical Brand Communication
Theonline social brand communication about brands is quite differentfrom the brand classical communication or the traditional media brandcommunication such as the TV and the print media (Kapferer, 2012).One of the differences is that the online social communicationprovides a two-way interactive forum, where the customers and themanagers engage and share information. On the other hand, the brandclassical communication provides only one-way communication systemsand the customer is not given a chance to respond to thecommunication.
Theonline social media is an open system whereby the players involvedcan enter or exit the conversations depending on their convenience(Close, 2012). The customers have a chance to express their opinionson what they feel about particular brands. The brand managers orother employees are in turn given an opportunity to respond to theconcerns of the customers. The traditional media, on the other hand,is a closed system with no avenue for the client to respond to thecommunication.
Onlinesocial brand communication is a transparent system in its nature ofthe operation. The classical brand communication media is opaque, andthe consumers are left wondering what would happen next. Thecustomers are completely delinked from the communication source(Close, 2012).
Theonline social communication makes use of content that is brand anduser -generated. The flow of information is from either of theparties in the communication chain (Close, 2012). The brand classicalcommunication uses content that is professionally created andsometimes it could be hard for the customer to comprehend it.
Communicationin the online social media is in its original form, and none of thoseinvolved in the conversation makes any attempt to polish it to makeit presentable for any reason whatsoever (Blanchard, 2011). On theother hand, the classical brand communication uses excellent contentto disseminate brand information to its customers.
Anothersignificant difference between online social brand communication andbrand conventional communication is that the former is free while thelatter is a paid platform. In the online social communication, theactors are the users who influence and shape opinions while on theother hand, actors are the celebrities (Close, 2012). The customers,therefore, seem to be much more acknowledged in the online socialcommunication platform than they are in the brand classicalcommunication.
Theonline social brand communication involves a communitydecision-making mechanism while in the classic brand communication aneconomic decision tool is adopted. The community makes decisionswhether such decisions make economic sense or not while in thetraditional media, only decisions that are considered profitable aremade.
Theonline social brand communication is not structured, and there is noadhered protocol (Close, 2012). The brand classical communication, onthe other hand, has a controlled communication platform and isorderly in its nature. Anyone can express their opinion on the onlinesocial brand communication while there are particular individualsentrusted with brand communications in the classical media.
Thediscussion in the online social communication employs a bottom-upstrategy .It is the customer who mostly initiates conversations. Onthe other hand, the brand classical communication is a top-downapproach is used to communicate with the customers on mattersassociated with brands(Close, 2012). The social media communicationhappens in real time as long as the parties involved have the timeand are willing to engage in the conversation. On the other hand, thecommunication in the brand classical communication is pre-producedand scheduled depending on the programs of the TV or the columns ofthe newspapers.
Thelanguage used in the online social brand communication is informal(Blanchard, 2011). No effort is made to polish the language or thegrammar used in the communication as the most important aspect is tocommunication (Close, 2012). On the other hand, brand classicalcommunication uses formal language and every endeavor is made topolish the grammar and eradicate all spelling mistakes.
Theonline social media has provided various options to brand managers intheir bid to promote their brand images. The customer has alsobenefited a lot due to more avenues provided to interact with thebrand managers. The client has increased powers to shape opinionsregarding particular brands on the online social media (Close, 2012).The perception and opinions of the clients are taken more seriousthan ever before. The online social media has offered variousopportunities to the brand managers which they could apply to upliftlevels of brand identification. There are challenges too thatcontinue to be posed by the online social media as a platform forbrand management and communication.
Thebrand managers are provided with fast responses regarding theirbrands (Close, 2012). They are also provided with avenues to assesstheir brands against others in the market and hence can introducemeasures geared at repositioning their brands. Instant feedbackmechanisms provide brand managers with opportunities to respond fastto save their brands from adverse effects of negative opinions andhence restore reputations. However, it is tough for the brandmanagers to respond to all kind of information as demanded by thecustomers. Sometimes it is not possible to generate any tangibleprofits despite all the efforts made to popularize the brands(Blanchard, 2011). Failure of such brands to realize profits is amajor concern for company owners and shareholders.
Onlinesocial media and the brand classical communication differ immensely.The former is interactive while the latter is a one-sided discussionwith no avenue for response. However, both online social media andclassical media continue to serve their distinct functions inmanagement and communication of brands.
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