How to work out when social is right for your brand

Let's face it: like, dislike it or just fed up of being poked by it, social media has done marketing a big favour by helping the customer's cause, as well as helping marketers reassert their importance in the business, writes Vincent-Wayne Mitchell, professor of consumer marketing at Cass Business School.

Nonetheless, many companies remain uncertain about whether, and how, to handle this new customer force – and rightly so. There are several conditions under which companies should probably invest in social media. These include when your customers are on it; your competitors are doing it; when you are prepared to invest some money, time and effort in doing a proper trial; and when you’ve done a pilot and got "good" results.

Other reasons to invest include when you can see how the business can use something like a Facebook page to further engage with its customers and "fans", promote its products or limited offers, or perform customer service or public relations (as in the case of Sony Electronics on Pinterest, Lowe’s on Vine or ASOS’ ‘Best night ever’ campaign). In addition, a Facebook group or custom social network could help regular internal information-sharing via a wiki platform that allows articles, webinars, videos and more to be posted and viewed by staff 24/7.

As part of this, social media can add a "human face" to corporate messaging from a new or existing chief executive, to amplify impact by using Tweetvids, or short videos, to regular tweets about travels, customer meetings, personal life and the introduction of new products.

Marketers can also point out potential benefits for other departments such as posting jobs, LinkedIn Talent Advantage and a suite of executive tools for recruiters that LinkedIn offers. Or social media can be used for employer-branding purposes, and sales teams could use it to research their target customer base and deepen relationships by monitoring top clients’ social-media activity to retweet their announcements and congratulate them on successes.

So when should a company think twice about social media? Well, if you don’t have and can’t afford the people, skills and tech to do social media properly, and when your customers aren’t on it, or you can’t ensure that you are aware of and can comply with all the regulations that now apply to online marketing.

However, there are also some marketing-specific considerations. These might be if you don’t have anything else to say other than what’s in your advertising, when social media does not fit with your brand image and if early adopters of social media within your market have taken up much of the target audiences’ attention, or you believe that using the network to push for sales without engaging with customers, or failing to respond to negative feedback, is acceptable.

Social media is not only the voice of the consumer, it is a power-allying force for marketers’ influence within companies.

To help answer most of these questions, set up a three-month trial period to examine the value of having a social-media presence. For example, social media can sometimes have a negative influence on worker productivity and highlight a lack of non-disclosure agreements. It is often more time-consuming than companies expect and privacy issues can be a problem. In addition, it can be a tool to lance the boil of residual brand dissatisfaction, which results in an immediate, but temporary wave of negative feedback.

Monitoring website analytics, obtaining better feedback and learning more about the needs and wants of customers, for example through crowdsourcing, which can use the wisdom and creativity of people outside your organisation who may see issues and opportunities that you are unaware of, should not be overlooked.

Social media is not only the voice of the consumer, it is a power-allying force for marketers’ influence within companies, as well as a guiding light to keep companies customer-centric. The best users understand that social media is a dialogue, not a monologue, and the best companies see it as being more than just another marketing communications tool.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message