There’s a very interesting post I read at WATBlog, interesting because while I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve not been able to put my finger on it correctly. Harshil, in his article has, and while he’s not answered his questions by way of solutions, the issues that have been raised are quite fundamental.
To summarise, it’s mostly about the ‘abuse’ of social media, by treating the platform as well as the communication on it, as commodities. The current usage, if i read it right, is that a brand manager knows he has got a filtered audience thanks to say, a common interest, but the way he communicates to them, is just another rendition of what he does through say, dm. Which essentially means branded spam. And that doesn’t bode well for social media, definitely not in the long term.
I agree, wholeheartedly. But I also feel that it speaks a lot about the times we live in. In this age, when attention spans are in a downward spiral, how many brand guys are willing to look at a long term view of brand equity? If buzz is the buzzword, is it a sustainable thing? Or is it seen as something which has to be milked for all its worth?
Most companies have a very ROI way of looking at marketing. I’m not being judgemental here, in some cases it might be even justified. To simplify lets look at two scenarios – an old product and a new product. In the case of a new product, how many stakeholders would be willing to buy the story of a social media marketing strategy whose tangible returns are in question? In the case of an old product, the immediate question would be why bother with these fads when we have TV, print and Outdoor. Oh, you are digitally passionate? Fine, adapt it for some Orkut Shorkut also.
The ideal scenario is when Social media marketing, and internet in general, would stop getting treated as another item in the adaptation checklist of a marketing campaign. because its not for campaigns, its for the brand and will span not just many campaigns, but perhaps many stages of its lifecycle also. When you have a group of passionate users (of a generic service, not even a brand) in say the ‘adventure’ space (that was mentioned in the Harshil’s post), the idea should not be to send a one way communication to them. Stop thinking of it as a messaging service, instead get them to share experiences, be a facilitator for their treks, provide free gear, get feedback, improve the product, become an active participating member in the community, figure out the long tails, make customised products for specific interests, make them feel so damn good about the product that they take ownership, become evangelists, and even recommend it to friends of their who may not even have made it to their social media group. Yes, every brand guy should ideally look at tangible gains, but are you willing to let go first, and learn some patience?
Let me also add an uncomfortable angle to this, the human one. How many brand guys would think of being married to the brand beyond say, 5 years? (and thats optimistic). So, what looks better on the resume? A measurable short term activity that yielded a quantifiable response, or a strategic long term activity thats still in nascent stages?
until next time, socialising ain’t easy