Branding Communities: A Consumer’s Perspective
Today’s topic is a response to last week’s topic which was the “Facebook Fan Value and the Brands That Need Them” . When analyzing branding communities we hear a lot of analysis focusing on the brand. This post examines the consumer’s motivations to follow brands on different social media platforms and their expectations when they join these branding communities.
How Consumers Use Branding Communities on Social Media Platforms
Consumers use branding communities to engage with brands. Consumers use branding communities first to share their opinions about a certain brand. Since most brands now actively respond to individual comments, there is mutual engagement between the brand and the consumer. Second, consumers “like” social media platforms such as the Facebook pages of these brands because wait for it, they actually buy and use their products. This is one of the most important factors because this is part of what motivates a consumer to join a branding community. Consumers also use it to receive discounts and promotions they would otherwise not see if they were not a part of these branding communities. This is an incentive used by brands use to gain more “fans”. They tell the consumers that they would get discounts and other opportunities if they become fans. Becoming fans seal their “loyalty” to the brand. Therefore, by becoming fans means having loyalty which gains them privilege. As discussed in the last post this cements the feeling of “community”. It is important for consumers to feel like they are a part of communities. Consumers also use branding communities to show others that they support this brand. If the brand has the “magic” factor i.e. they have other non-materialistic values attached to their brand name then consumers are inclined to show others that they support and use this brand especially if it is for a good cause. Fans of brands especially on Facebook are usually the first to learn new information about the brand hence the exclusivity brands try to foster. In addition, with branding communities, consumers can gain exclusive content.
Word of Mouth and Brand Communities
Forrester’s new digital marketing report shows research that concludes that consumers ultimately prefer brand recommendations from friends and family. In the illustration above from TechCrunch , we see that the percentages reduce as the determining factors get lower. From this report, we see that reliability and word of mouth is a huge determinant why consumers use a certain product and not the other. If the fans get all these exclusive opportunities described earlier they are more inclined to recommend a brand to friends and family members and as we have learnt consumers are more likely to trust friends and family than other sources of promotion. People are more inclined to share positive social experiences with others. It is important for a brand not just to use social media but actively engage with its audiences so as to gain trust from consumers. It is also important to find the right social media platform because different platforms are suited to different brands.
Overall, the rise of social media platforms has changed the way consumers engage with brands and through these platforms; brands are able to find better ways of supplying their consumers’ needs.