Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I was sitting on the tube last night reading the Evening Standard and came across an article entitled "As brands get social, they must listen more than talk". No knew insight there I guess. For me what's interesting is that this is a regular article in the Business section of the paper. There is no doubt that how brands interact in social media is a mainstream marketing issue. Even a year ago that may not have been the case. Now the question for brands is not "Do we ...?" but "How do we ...?"
Before I go on, a slight digression. At the top of the page next to the Business section header is a "Like us on Facebook" request. Is that what we expect readers of the business section of newspapers to do?
Anyway back to my main thread. Within this Standard article are a few facts. In a recent study by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and ad agency group Havas, 72% of firms surveyed said they are now "monitoring conversations about their brand". Given the type firms that are part of ISBA, the staggering stat is that 28% are NOT doing so.
That said the main theme of this article is that brands should be listening rather than talking, that social media users are not keen to receive marketing messages. Not sure I buy in to that 100%. Social media is an interactive environment. If you're just listening (stalking!) you're not engaging. There is also hard evidence that many businesses can actually trace sales back to their social media marketing. Can listening be all there is to it? Where does that take you without a response?
A recent study by Chadwick Martin Bailey showed that 48% of people follow brands on Twitter to receive discounts and promotions. That's not a conclusion that's in keeping with the premise that "social media users are not keen to receive marketing messages". Nor does it resonate with another of our strongly held beliefs when it comes to negative messages about your brand. It's not so much the negativity that's the problem, it's how you respond that counts. That response needs to be in real time in the medium of the chatter. Collating data (just listening), running it through project teams, focus groups and senior management before engaging is not the way to manage your relationships with consumers in Facebook or Twitter.