How are social communities now driving brands?

LS International

The growth of e-commerce and digital is only set to grow in the future. In our recent podcast, we spoke with Stijn Demeersseman, L’Oréal’s General Manager Commercial Operations CPD for the UK&I, and he was clear on the impact that digital is having on the business. He says that digital has “enabled us to be much closer to our consumers and many of our innovations today, many of our brands today, have become pure digital brands.”

Stijn Demeersseman went on to explain that 20% of L’Oréal’s business will be conducted through e-commerce by 2020. But it is through the greater connection that can be formed with consumers through digital that shows the true power of social communities. In fact, it shows that social communities are no longer merely just important or influential, they really are now driving the brands.

Stijn Demersseman also spoke of the important role that bloggers and vloggers play when L’Oréal launches a new product, brand or innovation, explaining how the input and insight that they give essentially means that brands are not simply being created in laboratories any more. In fact, talking about the brand, NYX, Stijn says, “It’s actually the social community who is driving the brand and who’s making sure the brand stays top of mind, and who does, probably, all the media for us.”

As e-commerce and digital grows, these social communities will only become even more relevant and important. Therefore, it is vital that companies not only appreciate this, but also that they create strategies around social communities.

Of course, trying to appeal to a mass market in order to drive brand engagement is nothing new. Some of the savviest of brands have been leveraging influential bloggers for a while now to communicate their brand messages. The utility and potential reach of blogging and vlogging platforms have clear potential. UK YouTuber vlogger, Zoella, can boast over 12 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and her videos have received an astonishing 941 million views. Brands that can cultivate relationships with the most influential figures in social communities can obviously do much to support their marketing campaigns.

Even when businesses and brands are operating on a much smaller scale, it is clear that the potential of social communities means that the conventional media model of top-down mass communication has shifted. In its place, Stijn Demeersseman believes that the relationship has “become a more individual one on one conversation with our consumer.”

An engaged and vibrant social community is a fantastic asset for any company. Communities will drive reach but they also have the power to add real value at other stages of a user’s journey, such as in building and strengthening existing customer relationships and in increasing conversion rates.

Social communities with thriving interactions and engaging user-generated content frequently shared can do much to boost brand awareness, advocacy and loyalty. The greater the quality and quantity of the content is, the more SEO will be improved and it should result in increased traffic too.

Social communities can do so much, from improving brand engagement to ensuring that a brand remains current, relevant and authentic in the eyes of the public. But it will be the companies that introduce creative and innovative approaches to social communities, and those that encourage these communities to ‘take hold of the wheel’ that will really see their brand being driven forward.

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