The Most Engaging Brands In the World, and How They Got That Way

Online marketing is something that’s been around for some time, but the past few years of social networking popularity combined with the necessity for more effective marketing has brought us into a new realm of social media marketing.

It’s been somewhat experimental, given the need for the cooperation from both social site publishers and participating brands. There’s also been the issue of metrics, which have come from site publishers as well as third party services. The result is a long-standing interim of wonderment at the effectiveness of social media marketing. But looking at companies such as Dell, Skittles, Burger King and Starbucks and it’s clear that running certain kinds of marketing campaigns on various social networks does in fact have a lasting effect. And it all boils down to engagement.

When it comes to social media marketing, the key is for brands to be able to engage end users, as they are all existing or potential consumers. The direct interaction between brands and consumers, catalyzed through the venues of social networking sites and services, means that the very nature of advertising and marketing has evolved. Handling this evolution is a challenge that some brands have met head on, finding effective ways in which to actually engage end users.

The Wetpaint/Altimer Group has taken a long look at what brands have been doing online in the past few years, and has created a standard for measuring the success of a brand’s social media strategy. This is where the engagement comes in. A wide and deep level of engagement means that a brand’s social media strategy is in fact successful. It turns out, Starbucks, Toyota, Dell and SAP Group are among the most successful brands out there.

There are four subsets that the Wetpaint/Altimer Group designated for a brand to fall into, based on their social media effectiveness. Mavens, Butterflies, Selectives and Wallflowers. Mavens have over 7 channels of engagement, and are hitting on all cylinders. Butterflies use more than 7 channels but are only doing well in a few of these channels. Selectives use 6 or less channels, but these channels are used in a highly efficient manner. Wallflowers are kind of just there, rather passively promoting their online presence.

The key takeaways from the study by the Wetpaint/Altimer Group is that while there is not yet a cause and effect determined between social media strategies and their success, there is a direct correlation between the amount of money spent on an online marketing campaign and its effectiveness. It’s a rule that spans just about every marketing campaign, regardless of the specific media channel through which it’s being run.

Another key takeaway is that having a dedicated team be involved with an online strategy is necessary in order for it to be successful. if this means that different departments within a cmpany need to communicate with each other, then so be it. But a unified strategy that aligns with the company’s existing mantra is what needs to be carried out in the online realm.

Yet another notable finding is that amongst the four types of groups that a brand can fall into, being a Selective can actually be more successful overall than being a Butterfly. This boils down to effective targeting, another established rule in the world of marketing across just about any media channel. It’s the old idea of quality over quantity, something that can be more readily achieved with online marketing than more mainstream marketing, marking the importance of metrics and our ability to properly analyze these metrics.

Taking these findings from the Wetpaint/Altimer Group will be helpful for brands in the coming years, as more and more aspects of online activity are becoming optimized for marketing of some sort, namely in their ability to provide engagement on a level that isn’t threatening to end users. Several third party groups such as SocialSeek have emerged specifically for monitoring brands’ online presence, straddling the worlds of the enterprise as well as the consumer.

Other social sites still are turning to some level of brand management provisions, enticing end users to offer feedback regarding brands while also giving them the ability to search and filter brand-related content across the social web. When it’s all said and done, this collection of information is directly beneficial to brands, giving them the insight needed to better manage their relationships with consumers.

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