Social Media and Brand Communication on the Net: New Reality in Social Relationships


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Text comes from: Ich, endlich einzigartig: Authentisch. Persönlich. Echt. Wie du zur Marke wirst und im Gedächtnis bleibst(2018), Meine Marke: Was Unternehmen authentisch, unverwechselbar und langfristig erfolgreich macht (2018) by Hermann H. Wala, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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No technical innovation has changed the world as much in its recent history as the Internet. And a lot has happened since its development.

Social Media and Brand Communication on the Net: New Reality in Social Relationships

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Hermann H. Wala is an entrepreneur, marketing strategist and speaker.

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The triumphant advance of the Internet

It is not too long ago that the scientist Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN nuclear research center in Geneva developed the page description language HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and the associated transfer protocol HTTP (web server) for a new PC user interface (web browser) and thus the initial data exchange has brought its most powerful application on the Internet: the World Wide Web. Quite in Sense For future open source applications, he made his invention, which is dated around 1990, available to science and business without monetary claims. Otherwise you can well imagine that he would have become one of the richest people in the world. The news magazine Der Spiegel presented its public online presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 25, 1994. At that time one of the first in Germany.13 By the end of 2012, around 230 million Internet domains had been registered worldwide - this corresponds to around 120.000 new domain registrations per day.

The team of authors Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger described the fundamental paradigm shift and the triumphant advance of the World Wide Web in a visionary blog during the heyday of the New Economy in 1999: »The Cluetrain Manifesto. 95 theses for the new corporate culture in the digital age. «The number of theses was based on the 95 theses of the reformer Martin Luther, which he attached to the portal of the castle church in Wittenberg in 1517. Levine et al. call for a new relationship and a new language between companies and customers. The Internet heralded an age of dialogue that for the first time enabled customers to communicate with people in the company on an equal footing.

The Cluetrain Manifesto

From today's perspective, too, it is worth taking a look at the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Seven selected statements are intended to make it clear how up-to-date these are:

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  • "Markets are conversations." (1st thesis)
  • “The people in the networked markets have found that they get much better information and more support from each other than from the dealers and salespeople. So much for entrepreneurial rhetoric about the added value of their goods. «(11th thesis)
  •  “In just a few years, the now homogenized› voice ‹of business life - the sound of mission statements and company brochures - will sound as artificial and artificial as the language at the French court in the 18th century.
  • “Brand loyalty is the corporate version of a relationship. But the separation is coming - and soon. In networked markets, relationships are terminated and renegotiated with breathtaking speed. "(30th thesis)
  • “You want us to pay? Then you'd better pay us your attention. "(78th thesis)
  • “When we are not your“ target group ”, many of us are your employees. We'd rather talk to friends online than check the time clock. That would make your name known faster than any fancy website. But you tell us that talking to the market is a matter of marketing. "(86th thesis)
  • “We wake up and connect with each other. We observe. But we will not wait. "(95th thesis)

A few years after the publication of the Cluetrain Manifesto by Levine et al. a term was coined that has long been considered a synonym for the change brought about by the Internet and progress in general: "Web 2.0" or the addition "2.0". First published in 2003 by Eric Knorr, editor-in-chief of the American IDG magazine InfoWorld, in the article "2004 - The Year of Web Services", the catchphrase Web 2.0 achieved its worldwide breakthrough through the conference of the same name from 2005 by the organizer and publisher Tim O ' Reilly and his article "What is Web 2.0" in September 2005.

The social web

Numerous publications have since appeared on this phenomenon and its effects on people, brands and the media. In science, the term “social web” has established itself instead of “web 2.0”, which means the following: According to Ebersbach et al. (2011, p. 35) from:

»(In the sense of the WWW) web-based applications that support people in the exchange of information, relationship building and maintenance, communication and collaborative cooperation in a social or community context, as well as the data that are created and the relationships between people who use these applications. "

In essence, it is about new communication and benefit potential. They arise through the networking of people and their collaborative cooperation through the World Wide Web. An early description of this development can be found in the volume Der Aufstieg der Netzwerkgesellschaft by Manuel Castells, published in 1996. The we-brands Amazon, Apple and Google mentioned in this book recognized the new design possibilities on the web, such as independent creation, sharing and evaluation, early on and made use of them in their further expansion strategy. The social network Facebook, founded on February 4, 2004, and the video sharing community YouTube, which was launched on February 14, 2005, should continue to stimulate this trend.

The share economy - »rent instead of buy«

“My house, my car, my boat” - many will still remember the Sparkasse commercial. Broadcast in the spring of 2008, it marked a high point, which with the emerging global economic crisis in autumn 2008 and from today's perspective is not without a certain comedy. The status symbols of yore seem to have lost their radiance. How could this happen? Was it people's doubts about the global banking and financial system or even the question of how social is the social market economy? The latter cannot and should not be discussed further here. The triumphant advance of the social web has undoubtedly brought about a new understanding of transparency and a new culture of sharing, which have contributed to the current change in values. Topics and discussions that used to be reserved for 1: 1 conversations are now often negotiated in public on social media. A decisive change can be seen in the fact that today it is less about owning and more about using it. Away from ownership, towards more temporary availability. Towards more little pleasures that I can afford here and now. Accelerated digitization is also reflected in the trend towards accelerated consumption:

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More and more often we need a new kick, a new consumer experience - and that is now just a click away. “The desire for property” has brought companies like Apple with its iTunes media platform fantastic returns over the years. Today it is foreseeable that many of these closed systems (so-called walled gardens) are no longer up-to-date and that flat-rate providers such as Spotify or Watchever will take their place. Why? Quite simply because they make a huge selection of music or films available at attractive conditions. Your customers can use them when they want, where they want and, above all, with which device they want. Apple also responded and launched the iTunes Radio music streaming service in June 2013.

The driver of the next few years

Renting instead of buying will be a major driver in the next few years. Hardly any industry will be able to escape this. The development is by no means limited to digital goods: Sharing platforms and services of all kinds are currently experiencing a real boom. A few years ago, dismissed as a niche, at least three percent of the German population use car sharing. According to the Federal CarSharing Association, around 343 vehicles are available on demand in 6.700 German cities and municipalities. A CarSharing car can replace six to ten normal cars. In addition to aspects such as environmental and resource protection, CarSharing offers the advantage of almost constant availability, billing to the minute and many new forms of deployment (parking service at the airport, minibuses, hourly packages). More and more people are enthusiastic about such models. For example, when it comes to lending tools to each other. The entire service life of a drill is just 13 minutes.20 Certainly one reason why DIY stores now also offer a wide range of technical devices for rent on site and via online portals.

On the occasion of the high-tech trade fair CeBIT, the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media eV (BITKOM) published a study on the share economy. Accordingly, the social web creates a culture of sharing, in which 83 percent of all Internet users contribute. In the age group of 14 to 29 year olds even 97 percent. Internet users prefer to share links (57 percent), their own photos (44 percent), experiences with products and services (44 percent), their own texts (29 percent) and their own videos (15 percent). Sharing services such as bike sharing (9 percent), file sharing sites (9 percent), car sharing (3 percent) and couch surfing (2 percent) are used most frequently. Couchsurfing - what was that again? The term describes online platforms and housing offers from private individuals who offer members of the community free accommodation. Commercial providers have also discovered this new business area for themselves: Airbnb, founded in San Francisco in 2008, claims to be the world's best-known and largest community marketplace for the brokerage of paid, private accommodation. In numbers, that means more than ten million booked nights in 192 countries and 33.000 cities.

Experience unforgettable stories

An essential aspect is often neglected in such considerations. It's not just about availability rather than purchase. No. For many people, an invaluable added value in the culture of sharing is that they experience unforgettable stories. For some people it is less about the 50 euros they can collect from a couple from the Middle East for a private overnight stay, for example, than about getting to know both personally. To experience experiences and assessments firsthand. Driving a convertible for fifteen minutes on the first warm sunny day in March - a great feeling and a lot of joy that cost only 4,35 euros.

Or the first, probably unforgettable journey in an electric car - already a reality for many users of CarSharing. All experiences and topics that people like to share with their friends and acquaintances both online and offline. A collective movement also contributed to the establishment of the “General German Workers' Association” in Leipzig in 1863 - the hour of birth of social democracy. What once started as a movement celebrated its 2013th anniversary in May 150, the SPD. The digital revolution has also brought about a new social and networked way of thinking, social upheavals and even briefly new parties in Germany such as the Pirate Party.

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In any case, the share economy has great potential for new types of business and offer models. Brands and those responsible for brands should therefore not only adapt to the culture of sharing, but also help shape it in the sense of a long-term successful we-brand. In an interview on http://www.lets-share.de The Swiss trend researcher Karin Frick even sees the high point of the share economy as “when we need something new, we first ask where we can borrow, share or swap what we want. We only buy when we can't find someone to share with us. "

Brand communication in networked communities: getting all employees on board

The social web is not hype and not a passing phenomenon. The market value of the 30 most valuable social media brands speaks for this. German companies are also living this trend: Most of them are already using social platforms. "Trust is the beginning of everything," was the slogan of a large German bank. Of course, this statement is unlikely to change anytime soon, but no brand, no matter how strong, usually enjoys such a high level of trust as its own family, friends and acquaintances. Many studies have shown that recommendations from personal networks and online consumer reviews have the greatest influence on purchasing decisions.

Trust in brands is always strongest when they keep what they promise. Only then do they have the chance to become an accepted and, in the best case, popular we brand. These favorite brands are liked, commented on and, of course, gladly recommended by consumers online. This active and free referral marketing should be the goal of every brand: the customer or potential customer becomes a credible advocate, multiplier and even a defender of the brand and its messages.

When asked: "How many colleagues he has available in his team for running the social media activities at Audi AG," answered Hans-Peter Kleebinder, Head of Social Media, during his lecture at the W&V specialist event Future Days: “Eight permanent employees. In principle, however, it is all 63.000 Audi AG employees worldwide. "

Facebook and YouTube

Facebook is considered the ultimate social network. Founded in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, the world's largest online community has seen uninterrupted growth in registrations in recent years. This shows that when people are online, they spend most of their time on social networks. But what is a Facebook click on "Like" worth? The TU Darmstadt pursued this much discussed question in a study. According to this, 300 "Likes" mean 6 cents more sales for an online retailer. The recommendations apparently take away the initial uncertainty. The purchase probability grows by 22 percent.

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YouTube is the synonym for "watching videos" on the net. By far the largest video platform in the world has consistently delivered new record numbers since its launch on February 14, 2005. In October 2006, the then completely deficit (and positioned without a clear business model) social community was taken over by Google for 1,65 billion US dollars. The current value of 24 billion US dollars not only silences the critics of yore. In one month, German Internet and mobile phone users alone consume an average of 175 videos or 1.271 minutes of video content. That equates to around five online videos with a running time of 42 minutes per day. The use of online videos offers many opportunities and advantages for companies and brands. Above all, this enables complex content and messages to be conveyed both emotionally and attractively. Online videos reach the masses, can have viral effects30 and drive visitors to company websites. Simply embedding a video in a website (including appropriate keywording or tags) increases the chance of being listed on one of the first pages on the Google search engine by a factor of 50. By the way, YouTube is the second largest search platform in the world after Google. Most of the large and internationally active brands are now represented on YouTube in the form of a so-called brand channel.

The audio-visualization of communication - Red Bull or how brands become media brands

Who doesn't know it - the legendary jump by Felix Baumgartner. The world record is not only the height of fall of 39 kilometers, but also the breakthrough of the sound barrier at a speed of 1.342 kilometers per hour in the Guinness Book of Records. The Red Bull brand was also spurred on by this: Almost every television station worldwide reported on the spectacle. The global media coverage should therefore have been worth several hundred million euros. On YouTube alone, the main video was viewed over 32 million times. All of the Red Bull videos from Baumgartner's jump together received around 67 million views.

It is hardly surprising that for years Red Bull has seen itself less as a beverage manufacturer than as a media company and, for example, has a network of correspondents in 160 countries. The Red Bull Media House plays on all channels: from classic TV to print to social media. The audiovisual media in connection with event reporting occupy an exposed position in the company's media mix. With Servus TV, Red Bull operates its own private TV station with full programming in German-speaking countries. And for those who cannot get enough of the world of “wing rental”, Red Bull Web TV provides an extensive online video program anytime and anywhere (network access provided). Red Bull is a primus inter pares and not only a role model with its social web activities, but also a benchmark for almost all seven attributes of a we brand. Nevertheless, a critical discussion should not be missing. As an initiator, sponsor and marketer of extreme sports, Red Bull itself is moving in a border area that undoubtedly harbors many (positioning) opportunities, but also enormous risks and thus increased social responsibility. In no way does it need a 50 million euro project budget like the jump from Baumgartner, even with manageable funds a targeted content marketing strategy can make a big difference. Almost every brand has exciting content and stories. The core question is rather: How do they have to be prepared in order to captivate?

Krones - B2B marketing with social media

Very few people are familiar with the Krones company. But most of them have the products in hand more or less every day. The medium-sized company from Neutraubling in the Upper Palatinate is the world market leader in the manufacture of systems for filling and packaging beverages and liquid food in PET and glass bottles and beverage cans. As for many highly specialized B2B companies, there is a great challenge in international marketing communication and especially in the supraregional recruitment of qualified personnel. Krones AG recognized the potential of the social web early on and has since developed into a benchmark in this area for many B2B companies. An extensive web TV service was launched on the Krones homepage back in summer 2008. On February 9, 2010, YouTube joined in the form of a so-called brand channel.

By June 2013, Krones AG was able to achieve around 1 million video views there. The individual videos are clicked on an average of over 1.000 times. As a reminder: Krones is not a lifestyle brand like Coca-Cola or Red Bull, just a manufacturer that supplies the global beverage industry with filling systems. Anyone who thinks that a machine manufacturer's videos can only be "conservative" should take a look at Krones' YouTube channel. One focus is on the authentic portrayal of people, their personal stories, which they connect with their employer. Krones' Facebook presence also shows how products and services that are supposed to be unemotional can be presented in an eye-catching way. Over 120.000 users are connected to the Krones profile on Facebook via the "Like" button. Many albums, pictures and videos invite you to discover the world of Krones. There are sections such as quiz games, a career blog and a trainee blog. And - it's human! It's less about technical achievements and more about letting people have their say who see themselves as part of the global Krones community.

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This fits if the Facebook-The Krones editorial team said goodbye to the weekend with a picture of colleagues toasting. On the Facebook-Page of Krones, current job advertisements can be found, which can be found in their own Facebook-Network can be posted and forwarded. The success of the Facebook- or the entire social web engagement of Krones AG is not only reflected in a lively community that actively contributes with comments, but also in the fact that Krones is one of the top 100 employers in the field of engineering for graduates and young professionals in Germany . Krones shares 81st place with companies such as Microsoft, Miele, Sony and Unilever.

Brand management and trends in the social web - the connection between people, brands and media

In times of ever shorter innovation and market cycles, the changed framework conditions caused by the social web represent a major challenge for brands and those responsible for brands. The spreading digitization and networking are both - a phenomenon and a driver - in a rapidly changing world of media and communication. In order to be successful in the long term, brands have to initiate offers that, on the one hand, link the different digital channels across platforms and, on the other hand, guarantee a continuous dialogue with stakeholders. Only those who think and act in a network can benefit from the changed recipient and consumer habits in the long term.

Particular attention is paid to videos: over 90 percent of the data volume on the Internet now consists of video files. That alone doesn't say much, but it is an indicator. Online video or moving image in all its forms is inexorably becoming the central medium of information and communication for people and brands. Everyone will do video. Video screens will be everywhere, whether in the headrest in the taxi, in the queue, as operating instructions in the vacuum cleaner, on T-shirts or as an interactive application in sales rooms. Huge glass fronts will turn into multimedia projection surfaces when you touch them. At home, roller blinds and shutters are relics of bygone days: one click is enough and the smartphone controls whether a window should be completely darkened or the sunset over the sea should be allowed to draw in into the living room. Just as the audiovisualization of society advances, so will the audiovisual staging of brands advance inexorably.


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