With all the daily, even hourly, hullabaloo we see and read about the importance of social media in branding and marketing, sometimes we forget just how important it is to maintain a strong brand identity in the offline world.
It’s a point Ed Keller and Brad Fay remind us of in a recent Wall Street Journal piece, Why Successful Branding Still Happens Offline.
The idea that “online conversations will spread to hundreds or thousands of people (and maybe more) with the click of a mouse” may be “theoretically possible,” write Keller and Fay, but it’s largely false. According to their research, “most links that are shared reach only 5-10 people.” And fewer than 1 percent of a typical brand’s Facebook fans are what we would consider actively engaged with that brand.
Today’s consumer marketplace is highly social, but not because of particular platforms or technologies. The businesses that will be the most successful in the future are the ones that embrace a model that puts people — rather than technology — at the center of products, campaigns and market strategies.
In this regard, higher education should have an advantage. We are in the business of educating people, not pushing technology.
But sometimes I wonder if we become so enamored with technology or social media in our branding that we lose sight of how we can connect with people in the offline context. Sure, social media has its place, and it is growing as a vehicle for connecting with our audiences or customers. But can it replace more traditional word of mouth marketing?