The Running Commentary

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Social Media must be about transparent interaction….

In my ongoing debate and insight around whether a brand should engage in social media activity or not, allow me to cast another perspective which the brand should consider. I dealt in my previous post “Social Media is not a one way street” about the fact that Social Media was about being social.  Crucially the acceptance by brands that they need to engage is vital. Believing that these mediums are a giant billboard, to advertise your goods and /or services, will win you no friends and may in fact inflict more harm than good.

The next issue facing brands, that I would like to highlight, is the need to align their message with the “consumers” in these mediums. This alignment must make sense to their audience and should not be far from the brand values, and more importantly perceived values. The approach that you will need to adopt is going to have to encompass a strategic review of issues and indeed the fringe issues that the brand “supports”. These mediums are far more sensitive to brands not delivering on their core values. The transparency of the interaction, coupled with the very real possibility that one incorrect word can lead to a mountain of negative press, means that sticking to your core values and principals is crucial.

Equally important is to not be fooled into believing that a message put out by the brand in one medium e.g. Facebook will be well received well by someone following in the Twitter channel. The consumers of content do so at their leisure and choice and crafting a one size fits all approach to the communication will fail.

Many brands employ a strategy of having their Online Reputation Management handled by an agency and for very good reason. This is one sure way to get the job done. I am not knocking internal management practices, in fact I support them quite highly. Employing an external agency does create a higher focus on delivery and accountability, if the plans and SLA’s have been created correctly.  However, these “monitors” do not always share the same values as the brand that they represent. One of my key challenges each day is to look at brand response and to figure out who their “face” is behind their response. I find it really interesting seeing some of the similarities in responses between branded accounts and certain phraseology.  This phraseology is even more apparent when your responses are limited to a certain number of characters.

To their credit some brands do deal with the “serious” issues in a professional manner and direct manner, but many don’t and they leave their reputation in the hands of someone who may very well have a “bad hair day”.  So my advice is that a brand needs to be very aware of what their core values are and if they intend deploying an agency approach that they should carefully choose the person who will be monitoring their issues and responses.

Crafting the correct response will ensure your success, ensuring that your message is delivered appropriately, into the correct channel will win you far higher praise. Finally, ensuring that your response is perceived as being genuinely from your company will deliver a far higher return than you could imagine.

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Mike • September 22, 2010


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