Eminent organizations, some of which are more than a century old, are stealthily shifting their media emphasis onto social media. Although they are not receiving the hype of the latest tech startup or social network IPO, these entities are leveraging the tools available in the social mediaverse to reach out to their communities and more efficiently reach their targeted goals. These organizations such as Goodwill, the United Way and the American Red Cross have mastered a collection of interlocking social media strategies to such a productive extent that it well behooves any commercial marketer to learn from their experiences.
Reimagine the Entire Brand by Launching a Newer, Hipper Version
Long-established thrift store operation Goodwill is one of the most enthusiastic adopters of social media as a primary key to approaching their targeted audiences. They have branched their social strategies toward launching a fully featured mobile app, set up a broad variety of online sales and they have even launched a fully consumer oriented, entirely separate brand entitled Shopgoodwill. Through this repositioning of their traditional image of “old junk shops” they are presenting themselves to the social media audience as a retailer that can offer the availability of a wide variety of goods at prices well below MSRP as long as the customer can overlook the critical factor that they were “previously enjoyed.”
The Critical Stratagem of Erasing Weakness and Emphasizing Strength
This strategy is a prototypical “turning lemons into lemonade” approach. In the minds of a considerable proportion of the American population the thought of purchasing a shirt, skirt or handbag that has previously been used is an unpleasant prospect. You don’t have to be a Howie Mandel level germophobe to have second thoughts about what foot fungi or other podiatric nasties may have been plaguing the previous owner of this particular set of Oxfords that you’re about to purchase… and are still dwelling beneath the vamp deep within the insole! By turning the stereotypical image of rummaging through piles of worn out castoffs into an attractive, economical and hip option to the major retail brands, Goodwill has mastered a critical stratagem: The consumer can be engaged through social media so that their entire impression of a brand can change, erasing weaknesses and emphasizing strengths.
Provoke an Emotional Response to Engage Social Media Participants
Goodwill did not just stop at the Shopgoodwill reimagining, but also launched The Good Life Blog, where the joys of locating expensive designer fashions for just pocket money at the organization’s far flung outlets is glorified as the smart consumer’s secret in a time when recession continues to haunt the nation. There never seems to be any shortage of wealthy individuals who purchase extremely costly fashion goods only to soon discard them through donation, and almost every Goodwill in the nation has seen its share of Christian Dior, Roy Halston Frowick, Gianni Versaci, Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani products land on their hangers with a price tag far more appropriate to a Happy Meal. Goodwill has also specialized in taking social media contests, draws and competitions to a high art. Their sweepstakes and similar promotions are some of the best examples anywhere of provoking an emotional response in order to engage social media participants who become long-term adherents of the brand and its cause.
The inestimable power of this social media persuasion ploy represents a codex that can be studied by any online marketer, as it holds the key to the revitalization and reinterpretation of any brand. If your company’s products or services have been overshadowed by a competitor; if they are being perceived by your target market as passé or uncompetitive; if you are trying to recover from a public gaffe or misstep; or if you are attempting to deflect your customer’s attention from a variety of misgivings about your brand, Goodwill’s remarkable determination and outright courage in reconfiguring its entire market image can represent a post-graduate course textbook for online marketers of any brand.