When the social media creators first developed their platforms, it was meant to be a digital space for friends and family to connect and share photos and interests.
They had no intention for their interactive platforms to be someday leveraged as the most powerful online marketing tools. Today, that’s exactly what social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are.
When it comes to content marketing and social media, no other organisation has adopted both with as much enthusiasm as the Virgin Group. The company, which in 2016 had a reported revenue of € 22.1 billion, demonstrates the value of content marketing and social media presence.
Virgin Group is one of those brands who were fast to recognise social media’s potential to be an influential channel for content marketing early on. Greg Rose, Virgin’s Head of Content, can take the credit for quickly identifying the potential that social media had as an effective marketing tool.
Had it not been for Rose gaining executive buy-in from Virgin’s founder Richard Branson, who at first questioned the need for a social media presence, the company probably wouldn’t boast a combined following of 80 million today.
Back in 2013, Richard Branson revealed the secret to their social media success. First of all, everyone in the company is social media-active. That means that all Virgin employees, regardless of level and department or rank, interact with their customers on social media.
When it comes to content, they focus on positive stories that encourage interaction. They engage in social listening so they can tap into conversations. They value feedback and don’t ignore negative activity.
This is how Virgin has stayed on top on social media and content marketing. Since Virgin first launched their Twitter and Facebook accounts, they have remained consistently active and true to their brand voice.
It certainly helps when leadership is blazing the trail for employees. According to Rose, “Richard tweets and blogs 24/7 every day, so it’s knitted into the fabric of the whole company now.”
Richard Branson has had massive success in using the platform to tell stories and build engagement. And because his personal brand resonates so positively with his audience, his company ultimately enjoys success too.
Richard Branson has amassed 12,6 million followers on Twitter and 14 million followers on LinkedIn. He uses those platforms to drive traffic to the Virgin website using the content he consistently publishes.
Brands can surely learn a lot from Branson and Virgin’s communication team. In the early days of social media, they were wise to embrace it and take the risk. We have seen what can happen to companies who resist change and deny that today’s consumers have evolved.
We’ve seen mighty global brands such as Kodak and Blockbuster crumble after they refused to be disrupted by innovation. When they failed to acknowledge the changing demands of their consumers and adapt, they ultimately met their demise.
While social media is not to blame for Kodak and Blockbuster’s departure, their story can be a lesson to all brands who still haven’t accepted that times have changed. To stay relevant, they must adapt and adopt strategies that are already making traditional ones obsolete.
Digital marketing strategies such as content marketing and social media marketing have already proven to be more effective than traditional marketing.