Avoid fake followers

Mark Ritson’s article ‘Pay up and embrace Twitter’s fake followers’ confirms my fears about how social media is pitched. It would be a shame if it were besmirched by those motivated by greed and who have a master’s degree in jargon.

Social media is an exciting opportunity but investors need to be aware of what can be realistically achieved and how long it might take to reap the rewards.

I fear the ‘scam’ suggested in the article is prevalent. Just look at the ‘follower’ list among major brands and you’ll see a strange collection of individuals who perhaps don’t exist, have probably never heard of the brand they’re ‘following’ and so are unlikely to buy the product.

Surely for social media to be a useful tool the advertiser must be aware that building a following takes time and skill and will not happen overnight.

Simon Meakin, scg advertising

Embrace data rules

Personal data is on the cusp of change and your article rightly highlights that brands need to align themselves quickly or risk being left behind.

The proliferation of embedded devices and the shift to online and mobile communications are enabling masses of data to be collected at low cost. This has led to an explosion in the interest in data and its use by organisations.

Under new rules, brands will be forced to reveal how much data they own and use. Smart ones are adapting already. The key test of successful data use will be a relationship between brand and consumer that benefits both. By acting in a symbiotic way, brands will gain access to better data that will not only be the catalyst for innovation through products, services and marketing strategies, but will help determine consumer behaviours. This will deliver richer relationships.

Duncan White, co-founder, Handshake

Brands must evolve

While Microsoft’s data privacy campaign could be viewed as self-interested, it is moving in the right direction, which a lot of brands are finding difficult to do (‘For whose eyes only?’).

What may well be daunting is the task of transforming data systems to allow open access for customers. This requires a large amount of effort from brands, but it will be beneficial in the long run. The ever growing importance consumers are placing on their data, matched by their increasing awareness of it, will naturally benefit those brands that act accordingly. Brands must evolve or risk the consequences.

David Gurney, managing director, Alchemetrics

Driving sales online

It shouldn’t be a case of beating competition from the internet – brand owners need to get all channels at their disposal working together to drive sales (‘See me, touch me, move me’).

Smartphone penetration means that a large number of shoppers have constant access to screens in their hands. If they are doing their own research and seeking peer group approval online, then brands and retailers must be consistent with their pricing, messaging and store experience to encourage offline interaction.

Marc Rigby, client director, Howell Penny

Know your rights

The Diet Coke campaign to collect customer images from photo booths in Tesco stores is a creative example of how brands can use crowdsourcing to engage with customers directly.

One alternative is to encourage customers to share content via social media, but it’s imperative that brands are able to curate this content quickly and easily, while ensuring that they have the rights to use the content.

Maija Ojanperä, marketing and communications, Scoopshot

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