You’ve been working out. You’re feeling good. You’re lookin’ good. You put on a great outfit – it’s sure to turn heads.
But, you don’t get to decide which heads are turning. In addition to gaining the attention of attractive prospects, you’re also going to gain notice among the trolls. You’ve set out to be noticed and have no say about who will rise to the bait.
So it is with companies that decide to actively engage in Social Media. They need to be thoughtful of the fact that the old filters are now dust.
It used to be that consumers tried to impact brands via letter-writing campaigns, boycotts, etc. Note that these activities tended to be activist and negative: that’s because it took a concerted effort to gain any attention. Thus, only the truly pissed-off gave it a go; happy customers tended to just keep quiet and go about their business.
But in the era of Social Media, everyone has a say. This can be good or bad for the brand … it’s now just as easy for fans as enemies to get involved online. Either way the brand has no choice in the matter: whether the brand manager participates in the conversation has little bearing on whether or not a conversation is going to happen.
Smart companies tend to decide it’s better to participate than not. Returning to our opening analogy: some of these companies decide to get dolled-up for the conversation; they try to enter the fray with a strategy that turns heads. Maybe it’s with a branded social-networking site; or a glitzy Facebook or MySpace page; or a swarm of freshly-minted community managers…
The problem with this approach is that it begs for immediate attention, and anyone who’s watched a blowhard burst into a cocktail party knows that some folks are attracted to the alpha personality, and some folks cringe with distaste.
When you’re online, those reactions are instantly visible. Some folks will applaud the big, noisy Social Media debut. But some will carp about “what took you so long?” … “why so fancy-schmancy?” … “who the f** do you think you are?” … “who let the freakin’ marketers in?” … etc.
Are you ready for that kind of unbridled criticism?
This is not a call for brands to defer their entry into Social Media spheres. I know that there are many large companies currently researching & developing plans for Social Media campaigns. I applaud the enthusiasm.
But, go slow. Listen first. Then, listen again. Use free tools like BlogPulse to ascertain who’s talking about your brand and similar topics of-interest. You may find that the Big Plan developed 6 months ago is no longer relevant, since this space moves so darned fast.
Find out where your likely friends and skeptics are … figure out how their opinions & tone changed over the past few months … take an interest in what they talk about when you’re (ostensibly) not around.
Figure out how you might add value to their communities, without expecting an immediate Return on Investment. It may be anathema for a marketer to discount ROI considerations, but, it’s posionous to your plans if regular folks figure out that that ROI equation is all you truly care about.
It’s not about making an impression. And it’s not about “impressions” in terms of website traffic. It’s about making friends. Friends who will tell you the truth – including how you really look in that hot outfit.
Posted on: February 8, 2008 at 10:39 am By Todd Defren