Brand is considered to be the most important asset for business. Even more relevant with today’s revolution of social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, bebo, flickr, dig, and more. They determine how people think, say and do to the brands. Some consider these social network sites have made the biggest shift of media communication since industrial revolution. Advertising, branding and marketing can now be integrated into social networking. The traditional branding involves different kinds of medium through television, radio, press ad, billboard, etc. But research shows that only 14% of clients trust advertisements and 78% trust peer recommendations. Thus comes the social marketing arena. Research also shows that 24 of the 25 largest newspapers in the world experienced record decline in circulation.
It reminds me of what’s written in the book ‘The Fall of Advertising and Rise of PR’ by Al Ries and Laura Ries that created controversy of how public relations has taken over the function of branding from advertising and how advertising has become obsolete and has been turned into an art form. This relate to the following of an interesting fact. To reach 50 million people, radio has taken 38 years; television took 13 years and 3 years for Ipod. Facebook just took 9 months to reach 100 million! It’s true, that people say if Facebook were a country it would be the 4th largest country in the world. Now imagine the power of social marketing that gives you higher yield of target audiences and more effective branding.
Though advantageous, it works like double-edged sword that is equally powerful to kill a brand when the public doesn’t favor it. Companies, celebrities and individuals now promote themselves through social network sites because they understand that brands and reputation are carried through words of mouth. This revolution has pushed companies to be more proactive and aggregate in providing content than merely using traditional advertising.
Social network sites like Facebook is a self-sufficient bundle tool that has almost all forms of communication for branding purposes. You can advertise, write PR story, create poster ad, post a video and update your clients on real-time. With video presentation and commercials that can be broadcasted through Youtube helps companies to save more and reach more specific target audiences. These social networks give more depth for people to understand companies better. People can obtain so much information (bad or good) linking from one site to another.
Some consider social networking to be different from branding, but every messages that reaches the public convey adds more dimension to a brand identity, and social networks are definitely effective to deliver messages to them directly, or indirectly. Similar to how public relations works, the return on investment does not comes in short term. It takes time and effort through the long-term art of ‘story-telling’ of a company to build and solidify a brand name. Essential factors that determine a good branding remain imperative. This includes good consistency, understanding of customer, message/communication, creativity and design, relevance and uniqueness.
With all being said, this does not sum up the social media to be the be-all and end-all method for branding as ever-developing technology and online applications such as Second Life is bringing brands into a new level. New media will continue to evolve and Facebook might be seen as predecessor of a new kind in future.