The Social Media Mirror: Buying into Brand Identity

vanessa.parks    October 16, 2013


Social media marketing isn’t always strictly about selling products. In fact, according to Lisa Mahapatra in her article Social Media Marketing: How Do Top Brands Use Social Platforms?, very few consumers are introduced to top brands through Facebook (only 0.25 per cent over the last four years).

Jay Baer agrees. In his keynote speech for the 2013 MarketingSherpa Email Summit, Baer refuses to equate Facebook fans with new consumers, but instead insists that we tend towards products and services we’ve already used.  “We like on Facebook what we actually like,” he explains.

So what do social media marketing campaigns do? They build hype around a brand, as Byron Mignanelli puts it in his article Top 10 Companies With Successful Social Media Marketing Campaigns on Facebook. “Social media marketing on Facebook produces results,” he argues, but not necessarily sales results. According to Mignanelli, they “build brand loyalty and help define your image.”

In other words, social media marketing campaigns allow companies to build their brand identity, and they do this by tapping into the highly interactive world of social media.

See yourself in this

Some of the most successful social media marketing campaigns have, quite literally, asked consumers to see themselves in the brand.

Coke ZeroCoca-Cola launched a marketing campaign in 2009 that promoted Coke Zero with the Coke Zero Facial Profiler – a Facebook app based on facial recognition. The software analyzed user photos and matched them based on appearance, playing on its claim that Coke Zero tastes as good as the original by asking, “if Coke Zero has Coke’s taste, is it possible someone out there has your face?” In one month, more than 150,000 users compared faces, building a database and pulling consumers directly into the brand.

intelIntel does something very similar with its Museum of Me. This online marketing tool gathers Facebook data to create a three-minute virtual exhibit of the user’s social life. At the end of the clip, users are prompted to “visualize yourself.” As with the Coke Zero campaign, consumers are invited to see themselves in the product, including them directly in the promotion of the brand.

Buying in

What’s the point of innovative social media marketing campaigns like these if they don’t attract new consumers? These companies are seeking something more – rather than selling a single product, these campaigns are building brand identity through buy in.

In her article, Social Media Marketing: Measuring It’s Effectiveness and Identifying the Target Market, Charity Pradiptarini explains that it’s trust in a brand that gets fans or followers to actually do something to generate revenues for the company. What better way to garner trust for a brand than to get your consumers to see themselves in it?

Consumers become the brand. If you can achieve this level of brand buy in, you’ve gained something more important than a single sale – you’ve acquired an ambassador who can intentionally and accidentally promote your brand in a variety of different contexts.

Social media gives your brand a familiar face.

Web references

Jay Baer, Social Media Marketing: How to use Facebook for customer engagement
Lisa Mahapatra, Social Media Marketing: How Do Top Brands Use Social Platforms?
Byron Mignanelli, Top 10 Companies With Successful Social Media Marketing Campaigns on Facebook
Charity Pradiptarini, Social Media Marketing: Measuring It’s Effectiveness and Identifying the Target Market

Submitted by: Vanessa Parks, University of Waterloo, SMBP student. To contact the author of this post, email

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.