An interesting article by Stuart Derrick from marketingmagazine.co.uk delves into the future of brand websites VS social network brand pages.
“Bacardi’s decision to move away from campaign websites to focus its digital strategy on social networks (Marketing, 26 January) may seem bold. However, it poses a question to all marketers: do expensive brand websites have a role in the age of social media?
Faced with declining numbers of visitors to its brand sites – according to comScore, Bacardi’s unique visitor numbers fell 77% between 2009 and 2010 – it is understood that the company will be shifting up to 90% of its digital spend to its presence on Facebook in the next one to two years.
Branded content will be shared primarily through online communities, with dotcom sites for its brands, such as Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire and Grey Goose, pared back.
Bacardi may be one of the first companies to re-examine the role of its websites, but it will not be the last. As Ian Crocombe, planning director at digital agency AKQA, says, if some brands deleted their corporate website, it would make little difference to their level of brand recognition online.
‘Corporate sites made sense in web 1.0, when you drove traffic to landing pages with banners, and collected email addresses,’ he says. ‘Modern consumers are engaged by real-time, social digital experiences which transcend device and are powered by location.’
Forward-thinking brands, such as Nike (an AKQA client), have already made this leap, he adds. Nike Football realigned its digital marketing two years ago and focused on delivering real-time experiences. For the 2010 World Cup, it built a platform where it could engage with 4.6m football fans and delivered exclusive content.
Honda also re-assessed the role of brand websites two years ago when it redesigned its systems architecture to centralise all sales and marketing information on one site.
Ian Armstrong, Honda manager for European communications, says: ‘Traditionally, each new campaign had a microsite with relevant content. You end up replicating some level of functionality. The opportunity was to construct content in a way that’s more modular and shareable across multiple platforms.’
Given the nature of car purchases, information-rich websites will remain vital. People want a place where they can come where the content is trusted, says Armstrong.”
But going social could be dangerous for a brand…
“As a warning of the risks that exist in the push toward social media, Hodge cites the example of confectionery brand Skittles, which decided to scrap its website in 2009 and replace it with a page that aggregated social-media mentions. It backfired when people realised they could post abusive material.
The brand reconfigured its approach, but has maintained a social element, encouraging users to submit images and video.’”
Of course social media are changing life, behaviours and branding/communication rules, but the real question is: “Is social media suitable for all brands?”
I think there is a concrete risk for brands, using all the same digital platforms, to be ruled by the digital media.
Each brand should firstly set up a brand strategy (brand values, target) and then implement it by choosing specific digital media, unique tone of voice and approach.
Going on Facebook couldn’t be the Solution to every brands needs.
Branding must lead the digital approach not just design pre-selected media.