The way brands are communicated to their customers is undergoing massive change in a world of modern and developing media activity. Jemima Kiss reports on what the new landscape looks like.

A marketing revolution

Social media is a marketing revolution, enabling new ways to engage with customers and potential customers, and empowering customers to interact with vendors and influence brand sentiment in new ways.

The possibilities feel quite overwhelming for brands trying to work out where to start with a social media strategy, says John Willshire of marketing and product innovation studio Smithery. “If traditional advertising is akin to electromagnetism, then social media is more like gravity. It’s easy to wield electromagnetism, be very exact and make it do what you want for a set period of time. But gravity – social media – is a weak force that affects everything, and you’ll have no idea how things are going to go. The only strategy is to design landscapes and build contraptions to keep things roughly in the right place.”

 

Social first strategy

Cadbury is one brand that has certainly found a sweet spot among the noise and distraction of social media. A network of campaigns and a “social first” strategy have combined brand building with entertaining editorial and no small amount of market research; the confectioner famously re-introduced Wispas in response to public demand on Facebook and MySpace back in 2007.

Since then, Cadbury’s strategy has become increasingly sophisticated. Its biggest brands have dedicated Facebook pages offering competitions, quizzes and the chance to be a “Joyville taster” for new products. Aiming to increase engagement amongst Facebook users, Cadbury uses events to get fans involved – a live-streamed attempt to build a giant “like” hand out of Dairy Milk bars added 40,000 new fans and engaged 350,000 users across the site.

 

The numbers are similarly impressive across Twitter, where Cadbury’s main account has 145,000 followers, and paid-for promoted tweets for the new Wispa Gold increased mentions by 1,800%. And on Google Plus, Cadbury has been one of few brands to embrace the site early on, reaching 500,000 users during one live Hangout on Air. “What’s different is that it’s eye-to-eye, face-to-face contact,” says Jerry Daykin, Cadbury community manager. “We can’t directly connect with every person who buys our chocolate, but we can connect with some of them. Then more people see the Hangout On Air, and feel they’re part of the experience. It’s a new frontier.”

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