By Brian Murray As the dynamic continues to shift in advertising and marketing from brand driven to consumer driven, brands and organizations must be ready to change their strategies when the market dictates. There are times when our message as marketers must change to fit the organic conversation that is already occurring. I've seen many brands try to beat their audience into submission by trying to force them to use a hashtag or have a conversation people aren't interested in. I've seen one brand recognize an organic conversation and shift their entire messaging because that is what their audience demanded.
Backstory I've always loved soccer. I grew up playing soccer and even played on a bunch of very competitive teams. I've been a huge sports fan my entire life. I remember the World Cup in 1994 and the beginning of Major League Soccer shortly thereafter. I've spent quite a bit of time watching the NY/NJ Metrostars which eventually became the NY Red Bulls. This year I finally splurged and purchased season tickets (which has been a great investment)! Red Bull has a large ownership stake in the team, so obviously the experience and marketing of the team is top notch.
The Beginning of The Season Needless to say I "like" the Red Bulls on Facebook, follow them on Twitter as well as foursquare. On just about every piece of communication they were pushing the hashtag of #Stampede. It was in their Twitter bio, mailers, emails and was highly visible in the stadium. The scoreboards and scrolling signs would regularly invite the fans to "Join The Conversation #Stampede". It was brilliant! Get people talking about the team in one place. The idea was in line with the branding, promoted everywhere possible, and the team was using it as well. But I kept seeing a problem. The fans and followers of the team were using another hashtag, they were using #RBNY.
On June 29th I received an email from the team promoting their upcoming game against Toronto FC and there was a noticeable difference to me. I'm probably the only person in the world who saw it at the time outside of their social team but they began promoting #RBNY. They were actually listening and observing the conversation, realized they had an opportunity to make a change. They changed their branding in stadium, in email and everything else and started using the same language as their fans! The conversation around the team isn't huge, it isn't getting three million uses a day, but the impact has been noticeable. Rather than having a divided conversation between two hashtags, they adapted to their audience, instead of forcing something that wasn't working. The New York Red Bulls successfully changed their strategy because that's what the customer wanted.
How Does This Apply To You?
Everyday there are conversations going on that a brand can join. Instead of trying to compete with conversations and force something that isn't taking off, you need to enable your social team to make judgements and adjust accordingly. There are a variety of platforms you can use that can help you learn about the conversation. I would suggest exploring the Search Functionality of Twitter and the use of advanced operators! These can enable you to go beyond the normal keyword search!
Have you adjusted your strategy because of your audience?