Social Media’s Impact on How Brands Connect to the Fragmented Consumer

*By Chuck Cordray
(eM+C)—New communications channels have changed how brands and their customers interact, making it a necessity for businesses to adapt and create stronger digital relationships that extend and strengthen their customer connections. Where and how consumers spend their time online has changed.

They’re choosing aggregators and social media over individual company sites and are increasingly accessing content and information via the mobile web using smartphones and tablets. In fact, to put the explosion of mobile usage in perspective, according to the Mobile Marketing Association of Asia, of the 7 billion people on the planet, 4.8 billion have a mobile phone while only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.

Online marketers who syndicate branded experiences in destination sites can ensure a strong brand presence within the market space. With the help of Facebook and its 900 million active users, social media has quickly established a track record of successfully connecting digital brands to an ever-growing fan base.

Marketers were quick to launch branded pages on Facebook that linked out to their own websites. The traffic to their Facebook pages quickly took off, but consumers didn’t need to leave Facebook to click to the individual company’s site — the brand had been brought to them.

Successful brands today go where consumers congregate rather than wait for consumers to come to them. They build up an extensive brand presence within consolidated sites. In essence, they syndicate their brand experience on digital properties outside their own domain. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Disney and Starbucks have been successful at creating powerful brand destinations within Facebook, with ever-growing fan bases of more than 20 million each.

Connecting to the fragmented consumer
Taking social media’s cue on how to bring the brand to the consumer, a new type of consumer destination site is emerging. It’s called the digital mailbox — an online consolidation of mail along with powerful interactive features.

As the digital mailbox develops, it will become a key channel for brands to inform, transact with and market to consumers. It will introduce efficiencies into consumers’ busy lives which will change how they conduct their personal business.

We can all agree that people today increasingly prefer to do things digitally. This presents an opportunity for brands to use consolidated online destinations like the digital mailbox to extend their brand presence and provide customers with relevant, personalized, interactive communications.

To promote your brand, the digital mailbox concept allows marketers to incorporate logos, styles, personalized offers, one-on-one messaging, links to online account management, cross-sells and, in the case of our product, bill pay, which can accelerate consumer adoption of online bill payment by offering the convenience of a consolidator site.

Using the digital mailbox, businesses will be able to maintain personality, create a strong brand presence and ultimately deepen ties with their customers. The digital mailbox will be both an attractive go-to destination for consumers and a powerful branding opportunity for businesses.

Chuck Cordray is the president of Volly, Pitney Bowes.

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