I previously wrote about how I’ve been or recently become loyal to a few brands and the foundations of my loyalty to them. Now, I’d like to call attention to the social aspects of marketing that help build brand attention and loyalty through their similarities to the concepts described in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.
In The Tipping Point, Gladwell focuses on Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen and how these three types of people lend to the wildfire effect of spreading an idea. Similarly, I find that the three types take on another form when it comes to the overly connected social consumerism that can create a viral effect for brands or products.
The Story: Maven
The book defines “Mavens” as the information specialists. With social media, the story is the information we’re fed by the company or brand. They’re the direct information specialists and social media makes it easier for consumers to reach them directly for the specifics we might need. Storytelling is a means of feeding brand and product information more effectively. Why should we feel compelled to stick to a brand? Where is it made? Eco-friendly? Made with recycled materials? Built to last? Compatible with other products? Whatever aspects we deem most important about what we’re consuming, the information via story is what will be the most captivating for us.
Social Media: Connector
Gladwell describes the “Connectors” as the individuals who know a broad spectrum of people. Clearly, they are the social aspect of the social media focus of calling attention to a brand. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. make sure that we’re all connected. We’re connected to our family, friends, colleagues, clients, celebrities and brands. Whatever the branch of social media there are opportunities for us to be connected to a brand and their story. Someone shares a post, image or video that provides that compelling story behind a brand to their network, that eventually gets several likes and shares to another person’s network, followed by several more likes and shares until it becomes viral. Social media through everyone we know or follow have become the connector.
The Storytellers: Salesmen
The “Salesmen” are the ones who make the story accessible, that make the initial share compelling enough to re-share. Who are the salesmen or storytellers in your social network? Perhaps they’re already someone we’re close to that is passionate about telling that brand or product story. When it comes down to it, these key influencers are the ones that we can rely on to get that idea about the brand to stick. Sometimes it starts with the known key influencers like celebrities or social media icons, who might be connected to someone you know personally or follow in your social network. They have the stunning images that tell the brand’s story without words. They have the videos that tug at your heart and make you feel a connection to the brand. They’re the ones who reinforce the positive response and sentiments about the brand.
Firsthand, I have witnessed and experienced the brand-focused via social media purchasing phenomenon through a set of baby blankets being sold online. Tula, makers of ultra-soft, bamboo fiber, baby blankets, also manufacture baby-wearing products. I purchased their other product, a canvas baby carrier, after seeing Michael Phelps’ son, Boomer, being carried around in it while watching the Rio Olympics. A few days later a friend gifted my baby one of their blankets, which sell out within minutes on their website. I joined other networks of people who love the Tula products, where I learned about the husband and wife team that started the company, the small batch production of their merchandise, the superior quality of the textiles used and how they’ve become so coveted because they sell out within minutes.
Two baby-wearing carriers and fifteen blankets later, I’ve shared photos and videos of my favorite items to folks in my social network. My husband’s cousin finds herself interested in the product, currently follows the brand on Instagram and now messages me that there’s a new blanket going on sale. We spent a good part of this past Saturday trying to get this special, new pattern of blankets, messaging one another about it and checking social media to see if others were able to get Tula’s latest release. From what I hear, I’ve barely scratched the surface in uncovering the start of what seems to be a rabbit hole of obsessive consumerism in the realm of baby gear brands.
Clearly, I’ve trapped myself into a fanatic form of brand loyalty for these blankets. I assure you, this isn’t how I am about most products, because sometimes, things go awry. Sometimes you get tested to consider the alternatives. Sometimes you get pushed further and eventually end up changing brands completely. In my next post, I’ll discuss what happens when brand loyalty is challenged.
And in case you’re wondering about that Saturday product release, once my order arrives, I’ll be at eighteen blankets.