Social media: the future of branding

“Contemporary marketers cannot ignore the phenomenon of social media because it has rapidly become the de facto modus operandi for consumers who are disseminating information on products and services.” (Faulds, D & Magold, W 2009, p. 359)

10 or 20 years ago, companies relied on traditional forms of advertising and one-way communication to get their brand across to consumers. Nowadays with the reign of social media, one-way communication is no longer a viable option to sustain a brand and sell a product. Social media not only allows for two-way communication between customer and the company, but also from customer to customer.

Effectively using social media allows a brand to also monitor network discussion which increases understanding of the client base. This relationship is more interactive than ever before thanks to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow for two-way communication. (Source: Pixabay)

Transmedia branding

Basically, transmedia branding involves communicating with stakeholders to build an interactive and engaging brand experience through participation and spreadable content. Professor Henry Jenkins from USC Annenberg furthered the concept of transmedia branding to suit public relations and communications.

“Rather than bombarding target audiences with unwanted and redundant brand messages, brands engage audiences in compelling conversations, across many different channels, in a way that consumers can and are encouraged to participate, interact directly with the brand or with other audience members, create content, and become part of the story.” (Tenderich, B 2013, p. 3)

Dove is an excellent example of this. Rather than creating an advertisement they created a narrative, one which their audience could get involved with. Their brand is helping women feel beautiful the way they are, essentially embracing inner-beauty. It’s ironic considering the company’s products are to aid in physical beauty. But this irony works because people don’t buy products, they buy a brand. They’re buying inner beauty, or as Dove puts it, “real beauty”.

The video above and many of Dove’s “real beauty” campaigns have gone viral on social media. In an industry that notoriously promotes changing the way you look, Dove has successfully created a brand that promotes the opposite (while still working like the other beauty products on the market).

– Generating spreadability –

Spreadability is one of the key components of successful transmedia branding. Videos and brand content “are passed along when people find these narratives meaningful and emotionally engaging” (Tenderich, B 2013, p. 5). Social media is the perfect vessel to spread a brand’s message and narrative.

– Promoting participation –

Participation: the key difference between traditional media and social media. Successful companies are keeping up with pop culture to engage with target audiences. Dove understood that women were becoming frustrated by unrealistic ideals of beauty in the media. Taco Bell understands humour amongst millennials (see below). If you haven’t checked out their Twitter feed, do so now.

The time has come where a business can no longer ignore the enormity and value of social media. And because of social media, it seems the approach to branding for companies has changed drastically, and will continue to change.

So, do you agree? Does social media hold the power for the future of branding and PR, or does traditional media still have some merit?


  • Tenderich, B 2013, ‘Design Elements of Transmedia Branding’, USC AnnenbergInnovation Lab, viewed 9 March 2017,

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