Social Media: It's all in how you use it

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Marketers can take a more holistic approach to where brand social media platforms fit organically and can be sustained without resorting to “check the box” mentality (On Facebook? Check. On Twitter? Check.). What marketers have come to realize is that mere presence on emerging platforms means little when compared to how they utilize it.

Effective social media delivers truly interactive advertising by empowering consumers to become active suppliers of campaign communications. They deliver their own messages about the brand and add relevance to conversations about a brand's practices in reality versus ad-land promises. Honda gave us the best example of interactive brand communications in action in its recent, “Everybody Knows Somebody Who Loves a Honda” campaign.

In it, Honda's TV spots don't simply point viewers to their corporate Facebook page, it takes content from the page and uses it in the spot. This is a dramatic shift for marketers who have long held the broadcast spot as the primary star in their integrated campaigns. This tactic shows that marketers are becoming comfortable with using ad space to tout their brand's social tactics. Basically, Honda is saying, “We'll provide the forum, talk amongst yourselves, talk to us… we're listening.” That is enterprise impact.

Marketers should look to social media as tactics inside a campaign and campaigns inside a brand platform. Campaigns have a shelf life and eventually die whereas platforms sustain and grow. Social media lives at a platform level and can address multiple campaigns simultaneously while driving a vibrant, campaign-agnostic platform. The best part about interactive brand communication is that everyone wins: consumers are empowered to perform a company's marketing functions for them and brands raise their visibility on what is widely considered to be the channel most closely associated with consumer happiness.

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