In the beginning, the dawn of the social media age was heralded as the start of a new era. There was a lot of hype about the ease of creating branded content for marketers and forging direct connections with their customers.
Some companies even invested millions of dollars in this concept, but it hasn’t always paid off. In this age of direct and two-way communication, why is it so difficult for brands to get established on social sites? Maybe a better question is why do some companies, and even some individuals, make it look so easy?
Is Branded Content Actually a New Concept?
Actually, the idea of branded content comes from TV commercials. Older readers might remember the Oscar Mayer ads, “My bologna has a first name….” and Alka-Seltzer ads, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing…”
Those memorable commercials were like mini movies and tended to stick in people’s minds. For younger readers, here’s the video of the Oscar Mayer ad from the 1970s.
It’s not that those ads weren’t great for their times. They were brilliant, but they also faced limited competition. There weren’t many TV channels, and consumers didn’t have access to the almost-unlimited content choices they have today.
Also, there was no way to opt out of these ads. Today’s media has evolved and become more challenging for brands to get noticed.
Understanding the Rise of Crowd Cultures
A good way to understand how some companies can rise above these challenges is to understand the rise of “crowd cultures” on the Internet. According to Harvard Business Review, “Branding in the Age of Social Media,” social media has found a way to bind together diverse cultures that were formerly very isolated.
Marketers that understand how this happened can leverage this for their own benefit.
They call these groups crowd cultures. A more familiar term might be subcultures, but these are subcultures that exist only online. The reason many companies fail to thrive on social media is they don’t understand that crowd cultures can be a significant source of a new audiences.
Examples of Good Branding in the Social Media Age
Think about those YouTube contributors who have gained massive fame by playing video games (see “PewDiePie” with 40 million subscribers) or filming silly pet (or human) tricks. These amateur videos very often attract more views and create higher engagement than professional content from large companies.
That doesn’t mean that brand marketers need to stop creating videos about silly pet tricks or video games, but it does mean that marketers need to learn more about crowd cultures that can support their brand.
Chipotle, before the food scare, is a great example of a brand that connected with existing crowd cultures that were made up of members who were dissatisfied with typical casual and fast food. Chipolte offered fresh and healthy ingredients and the possibility of a vegan burrito. They addressed a problem that was common to the crowd cultures they were targeting. This set a good example for other brands because the number of crowd cultures on the Internet is practically unlimited.
Consider who your audience is (or should be) and what is most valuable to them. More than likely, there is a crowd culture that you can appeal to.
Focus your content and branding to this group in order to gain a foothold with this audience.
Let Us Help You Connect With Your Crowd Cultures
During the past decade, DBC Digital has been helping brands connect with the right targets online. Contact us right away to begin getting the good news about your brand distributed to the right targets.