Last year, Samsung became the top mobile manufacturer in the world, taking the spot held by Nokia since 1998 and overtaking competitor, Apple’s, share of the smartphone market. But Samsung isn’t only a global mobile giant. With 20 million followers on Twitter and 15 million Facebook fans, it’s also a company that understands the value of social currency.
The meteoric rise of Samsung Mobile is no accident. In a digital environment that includes an estimated three billion mobile users worldwide, it has become increasingly critical for companies and brands to engage with mobile consumers on the devices of their choosing. According to mobiThinking, a resource for global digital mobile marketing agencies, in Why Samsung is number one handset/smartphone vendor: why your mobile strategy should emulate Samsung, “Companies have to fit their mobile strategy to suit consumer choice.”
This is an area in which Samsung Mobile has excelled. It offers mobile phones and devices at a variety of price ranges and hasn’t pigeonholed its buyers into using one operating system over another. “Companies that are prescriptive in their mobile engagement, epitomized by companies that only offer an iPhone or Android app, are pushing all their other customers (both those that have a different handset and those who simply don’t want another app cluttering up their cell phone) into the welcoming arms of their competitors,” mobiThinking says.
Samsung allows users to stick with the Samsung brand while being able to choose from several different smartphone operating systems, including Android, Windows, and Bada. It also manufactures an astounding 153 varieties of handsets that it makes available worldwide. Its biggest competitors don’t come close.
Nokia offers 22 handsets worldwide, but only eight varieties in the US, and its smartphones are now only available on the Windows platform. Apple, the third largest handset manufacturer, has a handful of incarnations of its iPhone line, while ZTE offers 22 handsets with Android and Windows options, and LG, the fifth largest handset provider carries 61, primarily Android, mobile phone varieties. Customer choice has given Samsung an edge in the mobile market, in which 1.9 billion mobile devices were sold last year alone, according to mobiThinking.
Samsung Mobile’s broad reach, partially as a result of offering consumers more choice, has been markedly heightened by its successful social media strategy which has accommodated the new mobile consumer environment by embracing the shift towards what Vivaldi Partners Group refer to as the “Social Currency Paradigm,” in its recent Social Currency Impact Study. The secret to Samsung Mobile’s digital marketing success, says Vivaldi Partners, is their use and understanding of social currency, or the “degree to which customers share a brand or information about a brand with others,” to drive business results.
According to Vivaldi Partners, Samsung has been particularly successful at driving consumer behavior towards the consideration to purchase, the purchase (and the awareness of it), and loyalty towards a brand, by taking advantage of the boost that social media enable in the “six degrees” of social currency: affiliation, conversation, information, advocacy, utility and identity. This is a global digital strategy that some of its competitors in electronics, including Sony, have failed to employ as successfully, says Vivaldi Partners.
In this way, Samsung has been able to draw in new socially engaged consumers and gain competitive advantage, says Max Nisen, in These Social Currency Wheels Show Why Everyone Loves Samsung And Forgot About Sony. Samsung has put a great deal of consideration into socially enabling its customers and brand loyalists, through its social media presence and its website, to network with others, such as friends and family members, by fostering an environment of advocacy and the genuine celebration of its products and services.
Much of Samsung Mobile’s more recent social media success has been due to its efforts to launch its latest lines of Galaxy smart phones and tablets. However, as Samsung’s example shows, a global digital and social marketing strategy must be actively adapted to an increasingly mobile world and enable customers to talk with and share with one another, amplify marketing campaigns, and build communities of brand advocates and social media influencers. As Vivaldi Partners and Nisen point out, a holistic approach to cultivating social currency, like Samsung’s, includes considering the impact of customers’ social media behaviors on producing three outcomes: consideration, purchase and loyalty.
Heather Turner is a writer based in London who has worked in the fields of print and broadcast journalism, PR and film. Turner moved to London in 2009 from the rural Ozark Mountain region of Missouri to pursue a B.A. in Mass Communications and to gain more hands-on experience in film and marketing. She currently writes about trends in digital media and maintains a blog in her spare time on subjects including politics and media criticism.