Why Social Media Marketing is Lifestyle Branding

| Social Media Management

A colleague at Marketing 360® asked me, “What are the KPI’s for social media marketing?”

I opened my mouth, raised my index finger up to make a point, then said…nothing.

I shrugged.  “That’s a good question.”

The truth is that social media marketing (SMM) tends to suffer from a kind of KPI (key performance indicators) ambiguity.   Becuase of the immense popularity of social media in our everyday digital lives, we marketers assume it must be possible to reach our target audience there.

But SMM is not direct-response advertising.  Because social media users are – for the most part – on the platform to socialize rather than shop, this type of marketing is not directly conversion based.

So what are you trying to achieve with SMM?

Develop A Brand Voice

Social media is an excellent place to develop a recognizable brand voice.

What is a brand voice?  Well, imagine if your logo, signage, color schemes – everything that makes your brand recognizable – was removed.  Would your company be recognizable just by the tone of your writing?

This refers more to how you say things than what you say.  It’s what makes you you.  Ask yourself:

  • What makes our business unique?
  • What is special about our offerings?
  • What distinguishes the way we do business?
  • What is our company culture like?
  • How does our company socialize and relax together?
  • What do our customers tell their friends about us?

Few businesses really create a unique voice for their brand.  Which is why it’s such a big competitive advantage to do it well.

Intangible Added Value

You know the features of your product or service.  You know the direct benefits those features deliver.  But most products offer something more.

If you own an iPhone, you have a more active social life.  If you drink Coors Light, you are more sexually attractive.  If you drive a Subaru, you care more about the environment.  If you serve Stoffer’s frozen lasagna, your family will love you more.

None of these benefits directly connect to features of the product.  Just having an iPhone won’t win you more friends.  Coors beer may, in fact, make you less attractive.

But they are all part of a brand message that expresses intangible added value.  This is the emotional connection that carries over to how people view themselves, and what makes them feel excited, confident, loved, adventurous, sexy – any desirable trait humans crave.

Husbands don’t buy drills because they turn a drill bit fast.  They don’t even buy them to make holes in things.  They buy them because when they finish a household project quickly their wife is happy with them.

It has nothing to do with the drill, yet it does.

Lifestyle Branding

When you take a crafted brand voice and blend it with an intangible added value campaign message, what you end up with is lifestyle branding.

Traditionally, lifestyle branding worked for products that had no utilitarian function, like clothing fashions or jewelry.  Luxury items, where people pay more just for exclusivity, use lifestyle branding.  When someone buys a Gucci bag instead of one at Target, they do it because the view they have of their life matches the taste and style of Gucci (not because the bag holds more stuff or will last longer).

Lifestyle branding tells a story.  A story of how your product fits into the perceived lifestyle of your customers.

Which brings us back to social media marketing.  Platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat are really storytelling platforms.  While talking about product features will totally flop, a storyline that makes the intangible, emotional value connection is a perfect fit for the type of content people consume on social media.  Funny, interesting, surprising (even raunchy if that fits your brand voice) content is engages people and gets shared through their networks.

And your brand story spreads.  For KPIs, you can track followers, likes, referral traffic, and even improved SEO on your website.  But overall, SMM is about amplifying your brand story and making the lifestyle connection with your audience.

When they take your story to heart and begin to build your product into their lives, you’ve accomplished a powerful marketing goal.

It isn’t fully reflected in a number graph or pie chart.  It’s more intangible in value.

But like car that makes you feel like you care about the environment or the smartphone that makes you feel popular, it’s a value that’s as real as a steering wheel or touch screen.