A brand is often said to be intangible - you cannot go and touch it, you cannot define it in it's entirety...true, however I would also add that the invisible nature of a brand is something that you address through social media.
When people research via the internet (and over 75% do), when they shop online...they can only see your shop window. Now if that was the case in real life, I don't think you would expect many people to stand on the pavement and commit to purchase 'without entering the store and feeling the culture, the product and speaking with the shop assistants' - so why on the web?
Social media is a way of providing that insight, it is a way of allowing the brands to make visible those aspects of their brand which the offline retailer can offer....
- Customer inteaction - by having the ability to interact on the website, on social networking sites.
- Customer questions - by blogging on the key questions that are in your customer's head.
- Customer demonstrations - by giving videos or pictures that show the product.
- Customer experiencing the brand - by showing your brand personality in how you deliver the above.
- Customer Trade Up - by giving recommendations based on the purchases made.
Social media can also add aspects that a shop will struggle to offer....think about customer reviews and how they add a different dimension to the brand.
Sometimes people in social business coaching sessions think that social media is different, an add on to what you do now..... I think it is the wrong way to look at social marketing.
Showing the intangible parts of the brand is the same whether you are online or offline - it is the how which is different.