The Social Stance Of A Brand
Posted by: The Tailor of Shoreditch
Date added: Mon 16 Apr 2012
It’s simple to ascertain that brands are trying to create awareness within sub cultures so they can appeal to the masses. This is what they know and how they are used to engaging the mass consumer audiences.
However, the social industry is still feeling like the uncharted territory to the majority of brands that have watched from the sidelines as the social world has grown and developed far quicker than any other proposition, with platforms like Facebook being valued above many established businesses worldwide.
It’s also fair to confirm that it’s no fad either! The importance of social media is vast, it has allowed us to communicate and follow regular updates of lost and distant friends, make new ones and express ourselves for the greater good (or bad!) and all for free.
So why do we want the brands connecting and socialising with us in our domain. Well the argument is we don’t. Certainly not within the realms that they are used to operating, holding us ransom by untargeted adverts and messages. They do of course recognise this, which is why we have social listening mechanics.
But what do we (the consumer) expect to see from this? is the ‘cloak and dagger’ approach really what we want or need from our relationships with barnds? On one hand we had irrelevant and somewhat annoying campaigns and posts that did not seem to help or engage with most users, and now we have brands collecting data from what we say to friends in the social sphere and then they refine campaigns to loosely suit what we say and do. It could be described as virtual blackmail; “Well you and 500 others said X a while ago so you must want Y”!
It is difficult to understand the requirements of users on this level because it’s created in a new industry that few understand, and what’s trending today, will almost certainly not be tomorrow. Social listening is big business but I believe we are on the tipping point of change, as consumers become more open to two way communication it is important that brands utilise the virtual conversation and act in a manner that is 110 % relevant to their consumer.
Example: The Global Web Index researches social activity, this is to understand the general behavior patterns of users within social platforms. Their statistics have shown that social conversation is the most successful route to inspire and gain trust from a user. Stats like these have inspired brands to start listening to you (the consumer), they look for keywords that are relevant to their brand and collate your data to instigate reports. On a customer services level this is quite important and sincere. If problems arise and complaints are aired or vented, these are seen on social platforms and they are noted. But they are not neccissarily acted upon until such time that the figures reach a critical level. For example, lets say if you have a power cut at home and you post your annoyance through your Facebook page or twitter account. Your energy supplier see’s this, they understand your frustration and they just collate it, they do not act upon it!
What use is this to you or me (the consumer)? You’ve not been directly made aware of the brands stance on the issue and nor will you be made aware of when this problem may be rectified and you will almost certainly, not be reimbursed for your inconvenience.
So you the user have not gained anything from posting your annoyance, the supplier however has collated your information, used you as a statistic and you are now a number in their complaint log, which may never be acted upon, that is unless 499 other peers state the same issues, but again, you will never directly be made aware of this process or when they may rectify any issue..
So why should we tolerate this on a platform that was designed for us, created for us and used for us? Is there really a sincere place for brands to sit within the social industry?
I think there is! The social industry is built upon one thing… conversation. If conversation is the bones of how this industry operates then why are brands not focused on creating conversation directly with their users? If they are able to listen, why are their (brand) voices silent and mute? There are two possible reasons for this. Firstly, the resources needed to communicate to the consumer, if a brand responds to one issue then surely they must respond to all. This would mean employing hundreds of staff to sit in a room waiting and listening to posts that may trigger a response, but what alternative methods are open to them? And the other is a relevant response, how do you talk back to your clients without interrupting conversations between friends and how do they respond without damaging brand reputation.
The two issues stated are easily tackled by way of some thought and structure. After all if you the user have stated an issue or a need, would it not be beneficial to get a reply asking your opinions or offering solutions, instantly without you feeling lost and unrecognised with no brand involvement. Would you not want to know the best solution for you in any given area or time of day? I think this is where brands are falling flat, by not taking a stance alongside us as social users on our level.
The energy supplier scenario should respond with; “We’re really sorry to hear your having problems, it is in fact a grid issue, reply with your location and we will respond with an estimated fix time.” A sincere response showing that you the user have interacted with the brand in question, after all conversation is a two-way interaction.
Social listening is here to stay, so should brands deliver campaigns through live and relevant social conversation? Should they be looking to break the ice and communicate with those that are talking about them?
I think they should and I think that a solution is just around the corner.
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