Did you know that a recent Sprout Social research study found when consumers feel connected to brands, more than half of them (57%) said they’d increase their spending with that brand and 76% indicated they’d buy from that brand vs a competitor?
And guess what that same research indicated was the number one method of creating a connection with your consumers? Yep — social media. In fact, consumers said social media was the #1 channel to truly connect with a brand.
So now that we know what we need to do and where we need to do it, let’s talk about how we actually do it. How we can leverage social media to create, engage in and convert conversations into customers.
Why Do Consumers Follow Brands on Social Media?
This question really has two parts. First, we need to understand how consumer decide which brands to follow on social media. And second, we have to understand why those same consumers elect to follow a brand on social media.
So let’s start at the beginning. How are consumers finding brands on social platforms?
- 45% are influenced by suggestions from social platform algorithms
- 40% rely on recommendations from friends and family – can you say Social Agents?
- 39% actively look on social platforms for those brands they already admire
- 35% look to influencers they follow to point them towards brand handles
- 34% follow brands they shop with offline
- 25% find brands by following relevant hashtags
And once a consumer has found a brand and visited its social media profile, what makes them stick? What do consumers say they’re looking for in a brand’s social media feed in order to make the decision to follow that brand on social media?
- 40% say they follow for Promotions & Discounts
- 40% report they are just looking for Entertainment Value – the make me laugh crowd I guess
- 34% want to be educated – which I assume means learning how to do something better and not a primer on college statistics
- 32% are looking for inspirational messages – we’ve personally leveraged this one on behalf of a liquor brand to successfully grow a very engaged and loyal fan base
- 32% are looking to follow brands that connect them to others like themselves — what we here at Converse Digital call Campfire Brands
Should You Become a Campfire Brand?
We’ve long been fans of Campfire Brands and we’ve built a few over the last decade (powered by social media engagement) and watched how the consumer target audience embraced, supported and helped us grow awareness of the brand AND the community campfire we were building.
It’s really not surprising when you look at the data. 91% of people believe in social’s power to connect people. And 78% of them WANT brands to use social media to help people connect with each other. 31% of consumers said they’re actively looking for communities to join and 41% believed brands should create private communities on social media channels. Not to mention, consumers ranked social media as the number one channel for building a connection between a brand and a consumer. All of which points to a simple fact: there is an audience out there actively looking for Campfire Brands.
But the #1 reason you should consider a Campfire Brand strategy is simple. People buy from people (and brands) they know, like and trust. And for consumers, trust begins with connection, with 66% of them equating connection with trust.
How Do You Build a Campfire Brand?
Campfire Branding isn’t for the faint of heart… you can’t just post once a week or every so often. Consumers reported they feel most connected to brands that have a robust presence on social media. It seems they’re looking for bonfires vs campfires or tiki torches.
But robust doesn’t just mean frequent. No, it also contains a quality element. You can’t just spam consumers with lots of social posts. Instead, you really have to embrace the concept of Propinquity and make sure that each time a consumer comes into contact with your brand’s social presence they’re offered chance to learn something new about your brand, its beliefs, its employees or reason for being.
And speaking of beliefs, you need to have some and ideally they’re beliefs your audience can embrace. If you’re looking to build a campfire that simply reflects your brand’s awesomeness… I think you’re going find precious few friends to join you for s’mores later.
Oh, and did I mention patient? Take it from someone who’s built a few campfire brands… this isn’t an overnight success story in the making. You’re not going to measure your effort in annual ROI. And you can’t buy your way into campfire branding. No, you have to do it the old fashioned way — earn it.
Earn it by doing the little things consistently, authentically and constantly until just like a real campfire, that little ember you coax and protect catches flame and the flame turns into a fire and then before you know it, you’ve got yourself a good old fashioned bonfire surrounded by a ton of your closest customers friends.
But most importantly, you have to be human in your communications. You have to stop trying to sell something and commit to a higher cause believing that by doing so, by serving the community that will gather around your campfire, that sales will happen downstream. Consumer can smell inauthentic bullshit a mile away and they’ll waste no time calling you out on it.
A Case Study in Campfire Branding
My favorite example of campfire branding done right is an oldie but a goodie. And yes, I’m potentially a little biased here because Converse Digital built the campfire along with our client Metanx – a diabetic neuropathy medical food product.
It was a three year journey that eventually led to a virtual worldwide diabetic conference — in 2013 — that was repeated again in 2014. And had the company not sold to a global juggernaut, who knows, we might still be holding that conference today.
If you’re interested, you can read the genesis story of how we first came up with the idea through our virtual campfire conversations and get a taste of the success it created. Or you can click here to read what our campers thought about the conference and our client Metanx.