Similarities exist. Politicians are marketers. Citizens are consumers. Their share of purchases, not unlike the count of votes, is a reflection of a brand’s power. Conventional brand advertising, like government propaganda, has been one-way communication.
The shift in the balance of power from marketers to consumers mirrors the shifts in the political landscape. Much like politicians, marketers have lost the extent of control they once held on their brand’s communication. Indeed, we are increasingly seeing consumers take the lead in the discussion of products and brands on the net.
Take Coca Cola, for example. It was estimated in 2011 that over 80% of the brand’s content viewed on YouTube was generated by consumers.
Just as the governments strive to retain votes, corporations need to adapt to the social age to maintain and grow their market share. Resembling the political landscape, the new equilibrium in markets is resulting in significant shifts in market dynamics.
The formation of social cloisters and the spread to fraudulent content further complicates marketing efforts. Marketers must respond with speed to protect their brands from fake reports that could damage their reputation. Their messages must penetrate the cloisters they target.
Brand missions are not as potent as political ideologies; the business of making soap, soda or soup does not draw as much attention as that of governing a country. It might seem that corporations are less vulnerable; they are unlikely to face a million protestors at their doorstep. Yet marketers do not have the luxury of time to inculcate lessons. Consumers may effortlessly switch allegiance from one brand of soap to another on their next purchase occasion.
To succeed in the social age, marketers need to learn and adapt. Of utmost importance is the need to listen, connect and respond to the conversations in a way that protects and promotes their brands.
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