There are more than enough perspectives on social media in this issue to keep you happy if you’re one of the many that are still awaiting “the perfect answer” on how best to embrace it as a brand.
Mark Ritson takes a pop at Cadbury’s Stars v Stripes campaign and its social media “failings”. Ritson and I disagree on social media. It’s not the be-all and end-all to me but I can’t dismiss it as easily or bullishly as he does. If social media is done well and serves the objectives of the brief then it can be of incredible value.
One thing is for sure; social media is the one thing everybody I meet from within marketing and media wants to ask about. For me, there is no perfect answer. Success lies in having a personal understanding of how social media works, which I should add, is nothing more than an understanding of how people talk to one another.
Fujitsu’s Simon Carter – one of our best and most respected marketers – warns against getting lazy and over-using social media, forgetting to take into account the basics of marketing. The “non-social media” or human equivalent is, I don’t know, probably cornering somebody you don’t know at a party and telling them every detail about your evening at home the night before, even though the signs are clear you’re boring them to death.
If social media is done well and serves the objectives of the brief then it can be of incredible value
There has to be purpose. You have to provide some relevant content or information. Without good content, you have a vacuum and it’s not good enough to fill it with the meaningless ramblings of the first member of your brand team to arrive in the office each morning as some do. There still needs to be a big idea, requiring creativity, understanding of an objective, relevance and authenticity.
You need to remember why you’re there. Engagement is good and “followers” and “likes” are good. But you’re there to grow your business and brand. This stuff needs to be cleverly used as a means to an end, to serve your objectives or not at all.
Sadly, few organisations are ready or equipped to talk to their customers, to interact with them in the way humans do, like “social” beings.
Customers don’t want to hear jargon or nebulous reasons why something can’t be done. They want respect, stimulation, clarity, information and content. And they want it in real-time. If you have the data-led joined-up approach and the confidence and human sensibility to provide that then you’re on your way.