Brand awareness gains wings on social media: the continued rise of values based marketing
Brand values and the communication of them to customers, has become an integral part of marketing with the rise of social media use. Using social media as an active marketing initiative has also received a huge amount of attention in the media and amongst academics alike because of its ability to connect individuals together, creating powerful brand communities where many-to-many communication can flourish. The marketing and communication characteristics of social media websites like Facebook in particular, are well documented and described by authors such as Grams (2012), Legorburu & McColl (2014), Richardson (2013) and (Leboff, 2013). This study further contributes to this debate, investigating the role social media plays in the use of brand values as an emotional connector between consumers and businesses. Brand values, always a part of the culture of a brand were found to encourage more human contact, mimicking the effects of traditional word-of-mouth. Such grass-roots and inexpensive social media marketing campaign studies, are lacking and the findings suggest that businesses might benefit by humanising and creating more of a business personality around their brand to become more appealing. A multi-method single case study approach was employed by the researcher in order to gain a holistic understanding of a particular business’ journey of rebranding and marketing a business using Facebook alone. This approach used a six-month slice of marketing and general business activity from an Asian fusion take-away brand in Auckland New Zealand, in 2014. Sales figures, website 3 analytics, social media analytics, customer surveys and an interview with the proprietor all combined to provide cross referenced data for the researcher, who was then able to draw conclusions and gain insights in order to answer the primary research question. Additionally the researcher presents the evidence for his conclusions as well as uncovering the importance of brand communities, customers as co-creators of brands and practical topics businesses could consider around transparency, integrity and authenticity in their marketing initiatives. Brand awareness as a tangible metric is also highlighted by the researcher as currently under explored yet increasingly important by most marketers and suggestions about how this can be improved are considered. Overall the campaign was a big success for the business with an increase in turnover of over 133% in a year and brand values were identified as the common factor between engagement on Facebook, the online reviews, the customer surveys and the interview with Paul Brandwood, the owner of Wok Express. The research suggests that the arrival of social media driven activity between customers and businesses is here to stay and introduces how the collection of rich data is and will continue to be, a game changer for both customers and businesses alike. Further research in this area is desirable as the researcher considers the implications.