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September 01, 2011

Cover Story

The Social Media Phenomenon


cover story

Can social media really make a difference for your brand?

A summer competition held by the Minnesota/St. Paul Business Journal (MSPBJ) answered that question with a resounding Yes! During June and July, the newspaper held a “Brand Madness Online Tournament,” which pitted 64 iconic Minnesota brands against one another in a bracketed tournament—the brand with the most online votes in each set advanced to take on the next brand. First up was Target Corp. and scrapbooking direct selling company Creative Memories.

In possibly one of the best illustrations of how the number of fans isn’t as important as the passion of fans, Creative Memories’ fan base of 67,000 outvoted Target’s fan base of 5.2 million to move the brand to the next bracket. As news of the tournament spread through social media sites, Creative Memories’ fans also carried their favorite Minnesota company past brand icons Wheaties, Mall of America, Dairy Queen, and ultimately, the esteemed Mayo Clinic.

Other well-known brands in the competition that couldn’t rally more fan support included Schwan’s, General Mills, Best Buy, Post-It Notes and Scotch Tape!

Probably the great wish of every marketing team is to establish a brand identity that engages customers so deeply that they are moved to action on the brand’s behalf. Clearly, one way to create an emotional bond is to connect with customers on a deep level. “A product like ours reaches the emotional core of people because we walk through their lives with them,” says Bob McClintick, Channel Marketing Director for Creative Memories. “Because that connection runs so deep, consultants and customers alike are more than willing to express their passion for the brand.”

In the final face-off, fans of Creative Memories and the Mayo Clinic left hundreds of messages supporting their vote, encouraging others to vote, and putting forth reasons and arguments why either brand should prevail. The comments clearly demonstrated that people cared deeply about both brands. Nancy S. writes, “Both companies are beacons of light in their own way—one helps save lives, the other helps share lives. I am grateful we have both.”

In an article covering the final results of the brand contest, mspbj.com quoted John Karlson, owner of JumperCable Marketing: “A great brand is one people talk to their friends about because they believe in it.”

Are you tapping into the power of social media to reach your fans? And if so, are you turning them into a passionate community that will spring into action on your behalf?