The Social Media explosion has engulfed us all. Latest figures show that a whopping 2,052,420 New Zealanders are on Facebook. The way people communicate with each other and share news and information has changed forever.
But what does this mean for you and your brand?
Interesting trends have developed over the last 7 years since Facebook burst onto the scene. Aside from the social aspect of friend-to-friend interaction, some businesses began to test the waters with their own Facebook business page and business-to-consumer interaction. Surprising enough these weren’t the big brands leading the way into this brave new frontier but the small adventurous brands.
In the past, big brands held the advantage with traditional media: bigger budgets; esteemed ad agencies; impressive websites; and large promotional giveaways. Now in the social era, even the smallest of businesses can find success and achieve incredible gains without a single ad spend.
The advantage is in the response time. Big businesses are bogged down by company protocol and lengthy approval processes whereas smaller businesses can often respond instantly with anything from a comment to a video or a helpful link.
Guess what…..consumers not only love this experience they insist on it. Big brands can no longer ignore social media it’s here to stay and it’s no longer optional. It’s time to get off the fence and join the party.
But what happens if correspondence isn’t positive to my brand, product or service?
Herein lies the future of consumer-to-business communication; I like to think of it as “the customers always right version 2.0”. Brand advocates and brand vandals can now effortlessly share their beliefs on a massive scale, changing perception and influencing culture. Also, moreover, brand watchers (users that don’t often comment but follow discussions) often weigh up the ideology behind your business are also watching how you react in these situations and how you deal with negativity when your brand is brought into the firing line. Brand watchers are looking for inconsistency in the way you portray your brand in every platform be it in-store, on television, your website and in social media. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” – Simon Sinek. Today’s evolving consumer is more conscious than ever about whom they buy from and why they buy from you than any generation before.
The rewards from social media can be huge but so too the pitfalls and risks.
If I can give you one piece of advice in this situation, it is to listen! A conversation of your brand is taking place, put aside your pre-conceptions of how you see your brand and absorb customer insights on how it is perceived by them. Afterall how your customers perceive your brand is nine-tenths of why they buy it.
Be present and initiate the discussion but then let go. Your brand is only one voice in the discussion, spark the conversation, let it continue and observe from a distance but make sure you are there to meet any negatives swiftly with a positive. Be transparent, never delete negative posts or leave them unanswered, set a standard for your interaction and refer any issues to an external source – a direct email or 0800 number. Resolve any issues conflict free and quickly and most importantly learn from them. Negatives can quickly be turned into positives for your business or brand if they are handled quickly and cleverly. For some examples of businesses that are using social media to their advantage, view this link here.
Make sure you remember your key brand assets and find a balance between promotional campaigns, events and brand information. Set yourself a post schedule and stick to it, making sure you find the right balance – not too intrusive but also not too floaty. This isn’t a Website where you control every aspect, this is Webspace. Imagine a website is like a lounge where the furniture is bolted to the floor and guests are guided on where to sit and how to behave. Social Media is a like a lounge where visitors bring their own furniture and well…even move some of your furniture around too. So have fun with your brand and make sure your consumers enjoy the experience too.
If you’d like guidance on stepping into this new realm of customer interaction, please contact COO’EE – we’re here to help.
Oh, and remember these brand discussions will be happening regardless whether you’re involved or not.
A list of resources we’d like to credit:
“Blame it on the Social Media” by Sarah Lang, Alive Magazine.
“Facebook Shares it’s big secrets” by Jamie Morton, NZ Herald, Friday Feb 3rd 2012
“Trends to watch in 2012″ by Trina Snow, FMCG Feb 2012
“Watch out, web watchers about” by Linda Cole, NZ Business March 2012
and the quote “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” is from Simon Sinek “How great Leaders Inspire Action”.
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