Reports & Whitepapers Social Media

Habit #5 of Highly Digital Brands — Being Relevant

January 8, 2013

This is Part V of a week-long series that explores the seven core attributes of successful brands in the Digital Age. Julian Long is a Digital Strategist at 360i.

Relevancy requires an astute grasp of what’s going on outside your brand’s walls – and even outside of your communities. Brands able to incorporate cultural trends into their marketing will find common ground with their audience and provide a shared understanding through which valuable engagement can take place.

What it means to be relevant

Being relevant is the difference between being heard and remembered – or being dismissed and forgotten. Relevance is the automatic filter through which every human being receives a message. Whether it is cultural relevance, situational relevance, emotional relevance or practical relevance, a message must read as current and meaningful to its receiver if there is to be any hope for retention amidst the flood of constant communication.

Relevance can be found at many levels. For marketers, being relevant means being aware of and responsive to the current cultural climate in a manner that hones in on consumer points of passion and interest and expresses your brand’s unique point of view on them.

Why does it matter?

People today demand more from the brands that solicit their time and interest, as they are exposed to exponentially larger amounts of data than those that came before them. Accordingly, digital consumers are both consciously and subconsciously selecting the conversations they will take part in. Certainly those media-driven conversations that are most relevant will rise to the top of the considered set.

The challenge to be relevant in today’s digital environment is largely based in knowing how to navigate the currents of conversation. Some topics, trends and conversations fundamentally alter the current; they stick, persist and become cultural memes. A brand that is adept at recognizing these changing currents can ride them to successful interactions with their consumers.

Authenticity is central to relevance and is discussed at greater length in the earlier section. It’s not enough to be aware that something is important to consumers; true relevance is identified by how it is important to the brand speaking about it. For example, our client Oreo recently indulged in this idea with great success. The Daily Twist campaign placed Oreo at the center of cultural conversations through a social media content series that put the brand’s twist on daily headlines and social trends.

The series enhanced the essence of Oreo’s brand image – which exudes a company that is completely integrated into the fun moments that make up a happy life. Fans rallied around their favorite cookie – liking, commenting on and sharing Oreo’s Daily Twists.

Three keys to being relevant

1. Keep a finger on the digital and cultural pulse. Successful marketers today are culturephiles – obsessed with consumer behavior and the ways in which digital is shaping culture every day. Study how other brands are maintaining relevancy and using social listening to quickly identify emerging patterns, behaviors and opportunities.

2. Find a point of commonality and seize it. Instead of merely jumping into the fray of a meme or trend, first consider how your brand can provide further value – perhaps in the form of information or entertainment. Adding a layer of value to the conversation – and putting your own stamp on the dialogue – is critical to staying relevant.

3. Get in at the right moment. Timing is everything. If you jump on a trend too soon, you’ll disconnect from too many consumers who haven’t discovered it yet. However, if you’re too late to the game you risk looking dated and slow. Conversely, get out while they’re still smiling. Don’t ride the wave too long. Remember, the life of digital conversations – even heavily trending ones – is short.

Tomorrow, we’ll share Part VI of our “7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands” series. In case you missed them, be sure to read Part I – Being a Skilled ConversationalistPart II – Being Authentic,  Part III – Being Data-Driven and Part IV – Being Discoverable.

Cover photo via Cuba Gallery