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Brand Activator/ Online Media

Community Activation: Accelerating Social Media Engagement


by Ted Kohnen
Chief Marketing Officer
Stein IAS (Americas)

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Article Highlights:

  • The untapped opportunity for any B2B brand is starting and participating in social-media conversations.
  • Consumers only want to engage with brands that provide content that is timely and in a voice that makes the brand relatable and actionable.
  • The more value you or your brand provides, the more that will come back to you.

Often at this time of year, busy marketing professionals are making steadfast commitments to what they’re going to achieve next year. High on that list for 2013 (and for years before) is “getting social right”–from the upstart challenger brand to the multinational market leader to my wife. Yes, you read that right…my wife.

Earlier this year, my wife started a blog on cooking, fashion, and interior design called The Curator. The blog quickly led to outposts on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and other social platforms; now her blog has some pretty impressive numbers.

I share this background information because, on the same day last week, both my wife and a marketing executive from a $500 million company asked me the same question: “How do we get the conversation going with our social media connections?” Easy enough question to answer, but few brands execute well on it. And, of course, my wife did not want to sit through my PowerPoint presentation on the topic.

This question, which brands ask of their agencies as well as internal marketing/communication teams, comes back to two key tenets of Brand Activation: An activated brand is a brand that 1) projects relevance, topicality, and energy, and 2) is a starter of and participant in important conversations.

Let’s take the issue of relevance, topicality, and energy first. Whether your target is a consumer looking for interior design guidance or a CIO looking to stay ahead of the BYOD (bring your own device) movement, they will only want to engage with brands that provide content that is timely and in a voice that makes the brand (and the information they provide) relatable and actionable … so leave the inside jokes for the water cooler. And the value-free promotion, for that matter.

The untapped opportunity for any B2B brand, and even my wife, is starting and participating in conversations. The advice for any brand engaging in social media is the same–find those conversations, started by other community members, and contribute to the thread. Contribute with tangible, useful information that positions you as a valuable member of the community. And then, apply the basics–sign your post, always include your blog URL or other social media connection opportunities, and always thank those who comment back.

Karma is most certainly alive and well within social media. Many bloggers have said they would not be where they are today without constantly acknowledging the readers and other bloggers who comment on their posts. The more value you or your brand provides, the more that will come back to you.

Once you begin to activate those core tenets, you will find that your steadfast commitment going into 2013 can be carried through all year.

About Ted Kohnen

The authors of the Brand Activator blog are from Stein IAS (Americas), New York, BtoB Magazine 2013 Agency of the Year.