Brands Must Take Care To Create Impact, Not Clutter

June 4, 2020 Kathy Bryan

Brand equity can be leveraged in times of crisis and social change, but effective brand participation only happens after marketers take the time to understand a situation and learn how, when and where they can add value and support. Especially during times of crisis, brands should make sure they understand the conversation before jumping into a trending topic. 

Brands Need To Amp Up Social Listening

Shutterstock_1486444964 Close up young african american man sitting on couch, holding smartphone in hands, typing message, posting in social media, chatting with friends or relatives, playing online game, doing purchases.

To communicate and connect with real people during times of crisis, brands need to act like real people. Social media conversations must involve multiple voices and reflect the feelings and mindsets of those involved. Listening to people’s messages to interpret feelings and mindsets needs to be part of the planning process for brands to reflect understanding and positively impact a movement.

What Is Social Listening, And Why Does It Fall Short?

Defined by Hootsuite, “social listening is when you track your social media platforms for mentions and conversations related to your brand.” By definition, social listening is dedicated to the objective of brands identifying consumer perceptions of the brands. If the brand is not involved, there is no listening.

Social listening has its merits and, as Hubspot explains in a blog post, helps brands respond to customers, discover new opportunities and keep track of brand growth, but brand-specific social listening will not suffice for brands trying to understand American mindset as it relates to most racial, political, health-related or economic issues.

Marketers need to spend time on social platforms, looking, listening and absorbing messages that are not related to their brands. Marketers must dedicate themselves to absorbing as much as they can, learning about active conversations and allowing themselves to be listeners and learners before rushing to engage.

Consumer Sentiment Is Not Monolithic

Shutterstock_1233219565 Male and female diverse hands holding cell phones, multiracial business people using smartphones applications software, users and devices concept, mobile communication, close up below bottom view

Social media is a great tool for identifying a multitude of opinions and distinct viewpoints, but only with time spent listening. A scroll of an individual’s social feed is not enough. Marketers must actively seek diverse opinions, leveraging analytic tools and search engines to help identify trending topics that may not skew toward their personal interests.

Likewise, it's not enough to just know a topic is trending. Understanding the conversation, the interested parties and the opinions matters. Without this intelligence, brands won’t understand current consumer mindset. More importantly, brands may engage in ways that are later determined distracting, unhelpful or inauthentic.

Brand Equity Can Be Leveraged During A Crisis, But A Crisis Should Not Be Leveraged To Build Brand Equity

The importance of brand equity cannot be understated, as this equity can and should be tapped into during a crisis and any other time of uncertainty. Many major American brands, like Nike with their recent “Don’t Do It” ad, leverage their large media budgets and strong brand equity to take stances and broaden the impact of messages. Helpful brands intentionally amplify the key points of a conversation, with emphasis placed on the conversation and not the brands.

During times of change, uncertainty or unrest, brands can amplify the messages that are making positive impacts on our society. Deciding who, when and how to express opinions requires taking the time necessary to understand what is happening, why it's happening and the current mindsets of all audiences engaged. A single social post can have a dramatic impact, but a post can also distract from the core message of a moment. Brands that choose to engage have the responsibility to ensure they are adding value and not just creating clutter.

Brands Can And Should Support Equality And Diversity

Until we see equal support and representation of all populations, we all have more work to do. It is every brand’s and every person’s responsibility to want more and to take actions to achieve more for our communities, ourselves and our children. But that doesn’t mean every brand should play a role in every conversation about racial injustice. Shows of support can include donations, petition signatures and increased education. Click here to learn more.

About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Media Solutions (DMS). In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS, the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers.

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