SUCCESSFUL digital marketing does not require megabucks of investment, but it does need commitment and perseverance. This is where many companies seem to be taking the wrong turn. Here are five tips to move your brand towards digital success:
1. Be conversational
Your top priority should be consumer engagement. The best way to engage is through conversation - this is, after all, social media.
Not only is conversation interactive, it also has a humanising effect. A brand seen as having a human face is much easier for consumers to relate to and bond with.
So ask your consumers about their interests, their preferences, their favourite holidays, their favourite song. All of these can deliver invaluable insight.
At the same time, make your questions relevant to your brand, follow up on them and apply them to future conversations or campaigns.
The point is to stay focused and link your conversations back to your brand. Engage your consumers with the brand, but do not cross the line and appear crass or phoney.
2. Leverage on current events
A frequently used tactic for engaging consumers is to tap into popular excitement surrounding hot topics and current events.
These might include, for example, national holidays, sporting events such as the Olympics, or presidential elections. Skilfully done, this can humanise your brand and build emotional bonds with the consumer.
But be cautious in the events that you choose - depending on the event in question, such efforts can easily be perceived as cynical, tasteless or even insulting; outcomes that are obviously to be avoided.
The objective should be to increase your brand's presence and relevance, rather than see every event as a marketing opportunity.
Successfully engaging with your consumers through digital marketing can deliver valuable insights into what motivates them and their connection with your brand.
But this very purpose is defeated if no learning is done. Measure what works and what doesn't - listen to and learn from your consumers.
The data and insights gathered not only allow you to better address your consumers' needs but also give you the opportunity to show that you value their input.
4. Let consumers run your brand
Everyone likes to feel involved, that their voice counts. So let your consumers play a visible role in being co-creators of your brand story.
This could be in terms of consumer-generated content, where you ask consumers for their submissions which are then fed back into brand development, or the creation of new products.
Have the confidence to experiment and take chances - seek suggestions for a new brand slogan and solicit their opinions on product names or new colour ranges. Have contests and attractive prizes (or even just a "Wall of Fame") to entice them to participate.
Seeing submissions adopted can dramatically raise consumer perceptions of brands and make them feel valued. And value to them translates into value for you.
5. Be genuine
Above all, ensure that your brand remains genuine; do not be something you are not.
Facades are frequently uncovered. In the social media world, that can quickly snowball into a damaging backlash. To create a strong relationship with your consumers, you need to be ready to share everything about the brand; what you do well, and what you don't do so well.
No one is perfect - be ready to share what you are doing to improve. Honesty counts and can pay dividends. Showcase your brand's culture, employees, values and lifestyle.
Share something that your brand feels strongly about - it all adds to developing your brand's personality and character, building that all-important emotional bond with consumers.
Ang Swee Hoon is associate professor of marketing, and Simran Gill is an honours year student at NUS Business School. This article was first published on the school's Think Business portal (thinkbusiness.nus.edu)