As with most football clubs today, there are several Facebook and Twitter sites run by fans, many of which I follow. This gives you a real sense of the mood of the fan base (their ‘customers’) and at the moment they are not very happy.
In fact, they are so unhappy they are asking for both the club manager and the club chairman to be sacked. At the same time, they are also asking for the club owners (or their successors) to invest huge sums of money to buy new players.
Now a couple of things strike me about this. Could brands gain that same level of insight, passion and direction from their customers? While my football example proves that social media is the perfect medium for engagement, are people quite as passionate about brands as they are about football teams?
Second, if this were so, could we see customers remonstrating with brand owners, asking for the head of the marketing director, and/or insisting that the brand owner spends more on new product development or advertising?
Some may argue that this happened a couple of years ago (2007 to be precise) with Cadbury when a Facebook campaign to bring back the Wispa chocolate bar gathered momentum and led to its comeback. Could this type of customer action become more widespread?
I fear that the answer to both questions is no. Consumers just do not feel that strongly about their brands. While the likes of TripAdvisor have made a pretty penny out of encouraging consumers to comment on their travel experiences, I believe the majority of people can take it or leave it. Competition gives people choice and while there may be an element of loyalty to one brand or another, people can (and do) shop around. But a football team? Now that’s for life.