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The most successful brands today are able to connect with and engage customers on a personal level, says Grant Powell, marketing blogger and founder of digital media network agency Pomegranate. "Social media makes that possible because it is community-oriented and interactive. Therefore, brands are looking to find areas and platforms [that] will help them connect with their target demographic in that way," he notes. "A publisher might be able to leverage this by creating content with the same goal in mind of connecting with viewers in some sort of personal way, and offering advertisers a means to build on top of the existing connection that the publisher has established—a sort of 'authentic endorsement' by a brand."
Publishers, in other words, can enhance the brand-building that is already a hallmark of social media marketing by marrying social media functionality to powerful content—and pitching this form of engagement. The fact that many advertisers are themselves looking to become content creators as a core component of brand strategy (Ad Age's Matthew Yeomans recently said major brands are waking up to the need for curated "social media editorial" after years of ceding control to crowdsourcing and user-generated content) only underscores this point.
Social strategies must be targeted to the needs of the individual client, Gardiner notes. "PNC Bank will have a radically different strategy than Direct TV, just given the nature of their products and sensitivities. It's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. We believe you have to listen to consumers in the social space and react to that."
Marketing on the Move
Mobile adds another component to the quest to get audiences to identify with brands. Because mobile allows for near-universal connectivity, advertisers must "open their thinking process to the endless possibilities of being able to deliver adaptive, on-demand messages to their demographic based on real-time actions," Powell says—even down to the level of something like pushing coupons to people when in the vicinity of a competitor's store (the technology is there, he says).