The year 2015 is dawning upon us and along with it—the Asean Economic Community, the integrated-market for Asean as an initiative towards the integration into global market. Which could be either good news or bad news for you Small-and-Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) owners. For starters, this whole Asean-Economic-Community-issue means, as you are probably well-aware of, torrent of goods, services, and labors for countries in South East Asia. Yes, this means wider target market, easier access to means of production and raw materials as well as laborers for you producers. But keep in mind that this would mean tighter competition. With those who presumably employ higher standards or simply being savvier than you are.

 

"Don’t fret though, as you have the equipments to survive. Or better yet, bag up more profit because of course, wider target market—right in your palm." 

 

The gem is to optimize the use of social media for brand networking and spread e-WOM or electronic Word-of-Mouth to smoothly expand your horizon economically.

Before you diss this idea as being too unoriginal in the era of Marketing 3.0, let me reiterate again the most crucial advantages for being a social brand: it is economic, and it is a far-reaching stratagem. A social brand is non-geographically bound and it easily penetrates all layers of society. Take the world’s most-selling carbonated drink, (which just so happens to be the third largest brand in the world) for instance. Being a social brand, they actively engage with their customer or fans purposely to create a social engagement and win the hearts of their loyal customer along with new, potential customer.

Does this work? Yes it does. It enables them to interact with more and more audience every moment, and I dare say they’re being dead serious with their social media platforms. By serious, it does not necessarily mean a 24/7 non-stop sales-pitch. The gravity of their social media platforms can be seen by the designs, contents and the frequency of interactions with customers which I will elaborate below.

Firstly, what does design have to do with their promotion strategy? Design is the very first thing to attract customers to take a peek and explore further into a brand’s social media account. In their case, they use different designs for different social media platforms, yet their designs have brand consistency. They emphasize their brand name heavily, and despite the differences they apply on all of their accounts they use highly suggestive and associative graphics relatable to the trademarks of their brand. You may as well observe their brand consistency from the interfaces of their accounts. Imagine what a graphic can do in the era of UX.

Now on to contents. They talked about AIDS free generation in one post. The other contents don’t litterally mention their brand name either. But they scream their brand identity. How? With relevant topics, wrapped up in juicy graphics and compelling statements delivered in the signature designs of their brand. Simply put, you don’t need to place your brand name all over your contents. Let the right designs represent your brand identity and frame the brand awareness inside your audience’s minds.

And don’t forget to frequently interact with your customer. Customers will be happy to receive a Retweet, Reply, or a simple Mention from your brand which they express in more engagement with your brand. Imagine your favorite carbonated drink account retweets your post about them and getting likes from all over the world, simply because you guys like the same drink. They go as far as  inventing a brand nickname for their brand to build an intimacy with their fan base. As a reminder, interaction is also essential to monitor various contents people post on your timeline.

The gist of it is, Asean Economic Community means trans-South-East-Asean market and a pilot project for social media optimization in establishing brand networking. In short, you may well easily etch your established customer base on a stone and share brand awareness worldwide. Which is perfect for you SME owners. Get exist in social media and authenticate your trans-Southeast-Asia die-hard fan base.

And just remember that human beings are social animals who are eager to engage in ‘real’ conversations—be it on the net or at the real world. Bridge your brand with (new) customers throughout south East Asia. Good Luck!