More than just a buzz phrase, social media has become a buzz topic of the 21st century for businesses that want to engage across industries and with consumers.
This enthusiasm is well-placed, with no end of experts, consultants and digi-gurus singing the praises of social media and how it enabled their teams to meet their goals.
However, far less broadcast are the stories of how a misguided drive for social media engagement can yield confusion and undesired results.
Read on to find out how social media can be bad for brands.
The audience mirage
Social media channels can allow businesses to reach their audiences on unprecedented levels, but that does not mean that your audience is active on social media. Research needs to be made into audience demographics and psychographics before efforts are made to create a social media presence.
Social media is not a marketing panacea
Social media’s ability to deliver business growth does not mean it works for every company. Using social media may make sense to you as an executive, but if it does not make sense to your audience then you will see few or no returns.
You need to be in an industry recognized as one that relies on social media to communicate and within that, the right type of social media needs to be used. If you are unable to communicate with people and share information in a public forum, then it is unlikely that social media will work for your company.
A Gullup Inc study found that social media is not the powerful and persuasive marketing tool that the corporate world hoped it would be, citing the consumer tendency to tune out of brand-related content on Facebook and Twitter.
Ultimately, if social media is used then it should dovetail with an integrated marketing plan, tied in through advertisements in print, on TV, through radio channels and bespoke online campaigns.
Right job, wrong person
Social media might be ideal for giving your products and services the boost they need, but efforts will fall flat unless the right person for the job is in place.
Unless an individual enjoys, embraces and understands the culture of social media, then digital initiatives in this direction will prove fruitless. All too often, firms or departments will create a profile page or upload a logo, maybe a picture or two, only for nothing else to be posted and zero engagement to occur.
Social media is not just a box to be ticked, it needs to be nurtured by someone who will understand the value of a post being ‘liked’ or an unknown organization or figure that wants to be your contact.
ROI through social media
Social media should not be considered a gateway to immediate returns. Studies have shown that 40 per cent of market leaders considered online social platforms made a ‘below average’ contribution to their firm’s performance, while 49.8 per cent said an ‘average impact’ was made.
Brands often do not have clear objectives for social media, a disconnect that is compounded when social media is not aligned with wider marketing strategy. Companies bucking the trend include Pepsi, which spent 50 per cent of its Super Bowl ad budget on social media.
To start seeing more meaningful returns, marketers need to reduce focus on targeting. Jess Burley, global CEO of The&Partnership’s media agency m/SIX says that inefficiency makes traditional media channels work, meaning that they reach lighter category buyers, a group that marketers overlook but which are crucial to brand growth.
Seizing on social media’s apparently straight road to a core audience, marketers are putting everything into reaching that audience in a way that loses sight of the broader catch potential.
If the internet has revolutionized the way customer complaints are made through sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, then social media has accelerated the process, as demonstrated by the downfall of Amy’s Baking Company.
If handled incorrectly, social media can be a very dangerous environment where reactionary online storms can whip up in a matter of moments. But if understood, firms can use the potential for rapid exposure to good effect by taking the opportunity to go that extra mile when dealing with customer complaints.
As such, firms need a very thorough and adept customer service team to ensure that the firm is always helping customers in a timely and courteous manner.
Social media may be one of the best ways to spread brand awareness, but it can be hugely detrimental if the accounts are not maintained professionally and developed in line with a clear marketing strategy.
Ultimately, the social media environment is very sensitive, so start with putting real effort into choosing the right people to lead your brand’s online profiles.
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