Social media (facebook, twitter, etc) has found success because it has provided another space for users to proclaim their individuality. It’s a place where participants can assert their identities, a place to chose what and who they align themselves with, to chose what they pay attention to. At the same time it is a platform to engage in a dialogue with others. What does the network know about that is unique and cool? What are they dismissing as a fad?
An important part of self expression is brand alignment. What brands the consumer buys, uses, displays, and wears is a form self expression, both internal and external. Brands should therefore be looking to social media as another opportunity to allow consumers to express themselves via the brand. They can do this in two ways: by creating another platform for discussion, e.g. Kellogg’s Special K and their forum for weight loss discussion on their facebook page (for more info: http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/esearch/e3i2a5df3fecd0d178335b5a67c873c849c), or by providing updates about contests, news, new collections, products, services, etc through a newsfeed. Simply allowing consumers/social media users to become “brand fans” isn’t enough – brands need to give their consumers something to talk about, to engage them in conversation, or better yet, provide them with a place to have those conversations.
Simply slapping an advertisement on the right hand side of a facebook page isn’t necessarily enough for a consumer – they see through it like they see through fads. Being relevant, and constantly keeping the consumer aware of the brand’s status, is what keeps them talking, forming opinions, asserting their values. Because social media allows users a place to express what they believe to be cool by engaging in a dialogue, brands can capitalize on this by doing the same: coming up with new ways to express their core values, and telling their consumer about it, and allowing them to answer back.