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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Four in 10 brand marketers think social creates new challenges to maintaining brand integrity

Four in 10 brand marketers think social creates new challenges to maintaining brand integrity

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Social media has changed much about how consumers communicate with one another, and has given them the ability to broadcast opinions about brands, products and services further than traditional word-of-mouth can reach. It has also meant something that can be scary for brands: Marketers are no longer fully in control of the message.

According to a study from branding agency MiresBall andKRC Research, 40% of brand representatives around the world felt social media posed new challenges to the integrity of their brand. More than a third said that social networking sites affected brands significantly enough to bring about changes in marketing strategy.

Belief that Social Media Creates New Challenges for Protecting Brand Integrity, 2010 (% of brand representatives worldwide)

But with 500 million consumers reachable on Facebook, and a host of other networking sites, services like Twitter and the rest of the social web, the challenges may be worth it. More than half of brand representatives told MiresBall and KRC that social media gave them an opportunity to reach new customers.

Belief that Social Media Provides an Opportunity to Reach New Customers, 2010 (% of brand representatives worldwide)

Brand marketers were split on whether social media helped create brand loyalty, however. While 35% agreed, another 30% disagreed, with the remainder neutral on the question.

The research also found a disconnect in how marketers thought about their brands and how they tried to reach out to customers on social media. The vast majority of respondents agreed that the brand must define what a company or product is, and that message should be communicated via various PR and marketing channels, including social media, and that the most effective way to communicate about a brand was to stay true to its message. At the same time, marketers were willing to stray from that strategy—especially in the case of social media.

The report suggested that attempts to find superficial social success might be leading brands to create a presence on networks that did not fit with the brand’s personality or use other inappropriate campaigns in the hopes that one would go viral, even if it did not truly convey the brand’s message.

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