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In addition to the gala evening that will be held on 22 March 2018, Serviceplan and GfK are organising the Best Brands Colleges, which will take place a few weeks after this major event. The programme includes an interactive session, where the results for their sector will be discussed with the advertisers concerned.

The results of the Best Product Brand and of the Best Digital Brand will then be presented to each industry from two different standpoints, i.e., first, by analysing the sector’s performance by comparing it with the other sectors: think out of the box – what can we learn from other industries’ best practices? Then, by trying to understand what are the main drivers that influence the results and enable one brand to dominate the sector to a greater degree than another.

A discussion on social media was initiated during these colleges, which were organised for the automotive, telecoms, and financial sectors last year. The topic that was presented to the respondents was: “is there a brand that I follow more than others on social media?” Among all the KPIs that were used to assess what the best digital brand was, we observed that social media ranked less highly than the other KPIs with a few exceptions.

Accordingly, we took the view that it was crucial to understand this phenomenon, which is why GfK has carried out desk research in order to understand the differences between brands at the content level. We were struck by the difference between brands that use social media as a communication tool in order to increase their reputation or sales, and brands that considered social media as a way of offering their customers something extra. For instance, this includes tutorials aimed at enabling customers to use the brand’s products, ways of improving their lifestyle thanks to using certain products, or even just an independent view of any product, in order to improve people’s day-to-day lives, such as how to save money on any daily activity.

Users are genuinely interested in following brands on social media, as part of this last approach. People do not blindly follow a brand because of what it represents and what it says about them. It must offer them something. This is not a one-way process. Meanwhile, this communication medium, which we will not go so far as to consider as alternative, but rather as participatory, has a genuine impact on the relationship that the brand builds with its customers.

We have frequently talked about the relationships between brands and consumers. A brand will not become your best friend by selling you its products, but rather by explaining how you can improve your daily life, by providing useful and practical advice.

The contrast that has been observed between selling and learning shows that social media have not yet been completely tamed. It is still crucial for advertisers to include these media in a communication system that involves more thought and reflection than simply wanting to increase their reputation or their sales. Social media are a major opportunity for establishing a link with consumers, without them having to travel. It is still the case that every brand has its own strategy, and is free to incorporate social media into its communications, in accordance with its own goals. However, in a society where communications tend to lose themselves in the overwhelming flow of advertisements and information, we believe that a preferred communication channel where the consumer deliberately chooses to follow you is more attractive from a qualitative standpoint.

Nancy Delhalle

Nancy Delhalle

+32 2 774 01 00

E-Mail: n.delhalle(at)serviceplan.com