Brands Need to Learn How to Influence Culture

Before there was social media—before there was mobile and the video revolution, there was blogging. Once heralded as a revolution in communications and to a degree, marketing—self expression and direct publishing of the written word became an influential force to be dealt with.

Content-Marketing1

Blogging, in written word form of has been a commodity for some time. Content in all forms—even mobile optimized and snackable content. There’s simply too much of it. Most of it is not very good and even if it is—the amount of effort it takes to make sure that content will travel far and wide makes for considerable effort. Many will do this well but more will fail.

Culture

The ability to create it, influence it, co-create it and integrate a brand so seamlessly in culture and relevant sub cultures. This is the next frontier of marketing and communications and while it has much to do with things like social, mobile and content—it is the cultural aspect that must lead while everything else follows. A fantastic article in Harvard Business Review reflects some of this shift, labeling it within the context of something Douglas Holt calls “Crowdculture”:

The challenge for brands is that they often times cannot create culture by themselves. Today’s culture creators often thrive in “sub cultures”—niche groups that exist under more mainstream areas whether it be food, sports, fashion—lest you think this only applies to “consumer brands” it does not. Subcultures exist in business as well and continue to diversify as business itself becomes more specialized and niche.

Brands and Organizations Must Become Collaborators and Co-Creators of Culture

Today and tomorrow’s challenge for brands and organizations is to tweak their marketing and communications infrastructure so they can effectively collaborate with influencers of culture across the spectrum. If brands cannot create culture from scratch—they can co-create it with the right partners across the paid, owned, earned and social spectrum. But to do this at scale, they must understand the ecosystem of influence and re-structure internally to connect that ecosystem and approach peer to peer influence from all sides.

The Rise of Influencers

Brands and organizations who wish to influence culture and become co-creators of it, must begin to coordinate how they approach working with those who wield influence, coming at it from different directions. For example, TIME magazine featured a cover telling us that we should “eat butter”. While earned in nature, the story and the journalists behind it are playing a key role in the resurgence of butter and how Americans are re-thinking fat. It’s an example of media influencing culture—in this particular example, this kind of influence cannot be bought—it must be earned, however, increasingly cultural influencers such as “YouTubers” require paid means to collaborate with.

“Content Marketing” came after social media and mobile and it enjoyed a good run. But it’s not enough to create content in a complex media ecosystem that makes it extremely difficult to break though and earn attention. Brands will have to learn how to influence culture and sub cultures by collaborating with those who create it externally while coordinating their fractured functions internally. 

Your Online Presence – Social Media

Social media communicates information, generates discussions, shares videos, pictures and more. It is the medium that everyone can use to express their thoughts, opimeizu-m1-note-indianions, likes, dislikes and reviews to a virtual audience. There is a wide range of social media sites as well including forums, micro blogging sites, social networking sites and wikis like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn and many more. However, we need to realize that these sites aren’t limited to interactions with only customers, but prospective customers as well.

With Social Media You Can:

  • Connect with friends, family and followers
  • Launch a new products
  • Improve the brand image of a product or company
  • Project and promote another’s skills and talents

Social media helps you get noticed on social networking sites and can help to increase the number of visitors to your website. Any startup venture or business can begin their marketing and advertising campaigns in a very cost effective manner. It also helps to improve the business relationship with the customer – strengthening trust and faith. These strong relationships will make your business with them last longer and attract new potential customers and projects. Creating brand awareness always helps to gain first tie customers and break new ground.

One of the advantages of social media is that even a small message can go viral. Your information can reach thousands and millions that you could not reach through any other advertising campaign.

downloadBuilding A Positive Reputation:

  • Create a presence
  • Test your audience
  • Spend time on 4 or 5 different websites to target your consumer

Begin by generating discussions on neutral topics that are related to the industry of your business rather than your own services or products. For example, if you are in the restaurant industry, then a good neutral topic could be healthy food. Once you are comfortable using the website, you can generate content that directs to your business.

There are many social media websites out there and it is impossible to have a presence on all of them. Figure out which websites your customers are using the most and stick with them. For example, if you are a B2B business, then LinkedIn would be more valuable to you. If you are a B2C business, then Facebook and Twitter would be better options.

How do you engage with your customers? Have you experimented with using social media yet?