Tag Archives: brand

Top 5 Reasons why your brand should have a community

People love connecting with others who share the same tastes, goals, beliefs, lifestyle, social status, locality and even dislikes. Essentially (most) people  are on a lookout for new groups to join and satiate their innate desire of belonging, of being a part of something along with others for all sorts of reasons.
Brands are one of the many possible threads that connect people in many ways and it’s not limited to just those who like the same brand of alcohol or the same brand of cigarette but even to kids who like the same brand of candy.

Brands, because of the way they are intertwined in our daily lives offer tremendous ways(even unconsciously) for their customers to connect and luckily for  them, people want to connect with the brands they love. They connect to find like minded people, to know more about the brand and their latest offerings, in hope of availing some offers/discounts or just to broadcast their choices to the world. Since the advent of social software , the grouping  of  people into communities/tribes has peaked a new high.

Ridiculously easy group-forming matters because the desire to be part of a group that shares, cooperates, or acts in concert is a basic human instinct that has always been constrained by transaction costs. Now that group-forming has gone from hard to ridiculously easy, we are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups – Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody”

What does all this mean for brands ? Yes, if you are a brand that people love/like and you’d like to take your relationship to the next level then you should also think of  having your community.

Here are the top 5 reasons why your brand should have a community.

1) Feedback:
According to me, the most important thing a brand can get from a community is honest feedback. Be it a new product or a new ad campaign, it’s extremely important to know what your customers feel about what you are doing. Forget market research, a community gives you a direct channel to know more about your customers, what are they like and what they like. This can be immensely helpful in improving the existing products and services and building better ones. This group can also be used to beta test a new product/idea.

2) Audience:
Community, means audience that likes your brand and wants to stay connected. A small but focused audience is a lot better than large but unfocused audience. The difference here is that this audience wants to know more about your brand/products/services as much(if not more) as you want to tell them. This means the conversion rates for any campaign here would be higher than that of a campaign aimed at a randomly chosen lot.

3) Brand Image:
Everyone loves a social brand, a brand that’s closely connected with it’s customers scores better over one that isn’t. Having a community around a brand will better the brand image in general and lend more trust and loyalty to it . If a brand is spending resources to build and foster a community it shows that it cares. Cares for its customers and is willing to give them back some love.

4) Buzz:
Will you feel nice if you get a birthday greeting from your favorite brand ?
Will you feel nice if you get a discount offer on the latest product from your favorite brand ?
Will you feel nice if you get a sneak preview about the upcoming range of products from your favorite brand ?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, you are highly likely to talk to your friends(online and offline) about it and that’s how buzz starts to build and spread.  The way communities work naturally supports word of mouth. In a group even small things aren’t small. Also, there are other factors associated with a brand’s community that add more credibility and virality to the buzz ,which in turn helps it to spread faster and wider.

5) Crisis Aversion/Management:
Think about it, would things have been a bit better had dominos already been on Twitter or Youtube ? I am sure things would be been better(even though slightly). By having an account on any of these services would have helped them in connecting with a small fraction of their customers who spend considerable time online and if there online interactions with the brand had been good, they would have definitely(on their own) taken on the task of dozing the fire and maybe prevented it from snowballing and this is just a small community on a third party tool.

I am by no means suggesting that every brand should have a community, these points are just to share why I feel it’s important for brands to have communities. What do you think ?

Pic Courtesy: http://www.ccfa.org/

Handling Social Media Disasters

When I wrote “Social Media: Handle with Care” it skipped me that Handle with Care applies to everyone who uses Social Media whether they realize it or not and this hold true even more strictly with employees/representatives of a brand.

The interwebs are abuzz with links to this video

These workers at Domino’s didn’t realize that just by uploading a 2.5 minutes video on YouTube  about what apparently is just a prank they have brought the company they work for in face to face to what could be called a “Social Media Disaster”.

Negative buzz spreads a lot faster than positive confirms Emanuel Rosen, author of highly popular book “Anatomy of Buzz” and that’s what we are seeing as I write this. It’s a given  that had this video been about something great Domino’s folks are doing, not even 10% of those who are spreading the word would have bothered to share it with their friends and followers.

While a lot is being said and will be said about how gross the video is, the employees are jerks and should be fired(or even jailed) and how we shouldn’t eat out etc what people tend to miss is “what next”, we have a situation at our hand and we know that it’s just an unfortunate incident which doesn’t really signify or imply anything about the way pizza’s are made at Domino’s or at any other pizza joint but what is it that they can do to reduce the side/after effects ?

Goodasyou posted a few videos and communicated with Domino’s officials about the same. The company reps replied diplomatically which is a fair way to go about it. Other than replying to all the written and telephonic communication in this regard they also need to find a way out to remove/block those videos(fake ?)  and there has to be opened an official channel(social media off course) to interact with upset customers and update them regularly about the incident and what they are dealing with it.

What do you think should the people behind dominos do to reduce the impact  on their brand ?

Is CCD the new McDonald’s ?

Yes, the title of this post might sound a bit weird but I coudn’t think of anything to better describe what I mean.

Cafe Coffee Day is a leading chain of coffee shops in India which started operations way back in 1996. As per wiki it has about 650 outlets spread over 110 cities, which by no count is less and as per this news item here they plan to have about 900 outlets by end of FY09 i.e 73% growth (at the beginning of FY08 they had 520 outlets). The article also mentions that the 80% of CCD’s consumers are in the 15-29 age group.

In the last year or so CCD outlets have mushroomed all over the country especially Delhi, there are at least eight outlets in C.P itself and at least three within walking distance of five minutes from where I stay.There will hardly be a mall/shopping complex where there isn’t a CCD. The way CCD outlets are sprouting I am reminded of the way McDonald’s became a household brand in India. For majority of Indians Burger == McDonald’s and the shift from Nirula’s and Wimpy’s to McDonald’s has been rather fast and interesting.

Each Brand tends to be associated with some feelings/emotions/thoughts etc and that’s what helps brand become more or less popular depending on weather the associations are positive or not and with what audience can it strike a chord. Lets take McDonald’s for example, One can easily notice that majority of its customers would be from middle/lower middle class(and lower class) and of the age group less than 30. It fits nicely with their pricing model too but there’s something about the brand image and way the brand is perceived by people that leads to a particular segment of society more attracted towards a brand than others. Maybe this image( for McDonald’s) of an outlet “that serves cheapest burgers/snacks with a decent enough quality and taste) that does the trick of making them the most popular in their segment and helps sustaining this popularity as living up to this image is not probably as difficult as living up to the image of being a hi-fi/elite burger shop.

The way I see it, CCD is more or less on the same road. It projects that sort of image(of being cheap, of decent quality and a bit stylish) and has managed to strike a chord with a particular(and populous) segment. I feel if you ask any McDonald’s customer about his/her choice when it comes to coffee outlets most will say CCD against Barista or Costa. Thinking more about the brand images/perceptions Barista(launched in 1997)  which was more popular initially than it is now offers a more classy experience. It was the first cafe(that I knew) to have a guitar which customers can play other than few board games. Barista however projects a different image, maybe a slightly sophisticated one at that and thus has its appeal limited to a particular segment(which might be small sized).

Given the way CCD is growing in popularity it will be interesting to see how they expand. Will they have different types of cafes for different people/places ? Will they diversify or stick to their existing offerings ?

It might have helped if CCD had a working website, http://www.cafecoffeeday.com/