Social media is taking over the world!

Brands are no longer in control!

I think we’ve all heard these statements from many of the social media literati (SMLs). Certainly social media is a great phenomenon and is something critical for marketing (as well as business operations). Let me confine my comments to the marketing side of things. Also, I thought I would start out my LinkedIn post as by being a bit controversial.

Social media is impacting how brands need to communicate with their consumers. Through social media the communications have become two way. How cool is that. But that doesn’t mean it’s one way, from consumer to brand. It means that brands must listen, but consumers also want to hear back. Social media IS another really cool messaging channel for a brand to deliver messages and communicate with and listen to its consumers.

Here are 6 things to think about for brands:

  1. Communications isn’t a monologue it’s a two way street. Consumers want to talk AND hear. THEREFORE: Brands can use social media to communicate about their brands and drive and influence the conversation. Brands are still in control, however, now they have a new feedback channel to listen to and understand what consumers are saying.
  2. Not everyone is talking on social media. Not everyone that is on social media agrees with those that are talking. The few people that are talking about brands, may be totally un-representative of the consumer base of the brand. THEREFORE: Brands need to be careful how they respond to those that are talking and what it might mean to their brand.
  3. Not everyone that is on social media wants to hear from brands. I follow brands on Facebook, because I do it for business purposes. In reality, I would rather that I could somehow have their posts be separate from what my friends see. Facebook is for me to talk to friends. Not for my friends to have to put up with some of the things I do for work. I would prefer for them not to talk with me on social media. I’d rather see their paid ad’s somewhere else. THEREFORE: Brands must continue to send messages using all available channels to the best of their ability. Social media is just one of those channels.
  4. Even in the midst of the cacophony of social media, brands need to find a position that is different than the competition. One that adds value to the consumer. THEREFORE: The brand is still in control, but they now have a way to listen to some of the consumers and have them and others listen to the response.
  5. Successful brands have always been listening to their consumers. They spend lots of money on market research and now they have a new way to see directly what they’re saying and in their language. THEREFORE: Successful brands will use this social media insight in combination with other insight to make sure they make the right decisions. They are still in control.
  6. Social media marketing is just another communications channel, but it is cool. The major difference is that one-on-one communications can now be seen by everyone. Ten years ago, the Internet was also just another communications channel. 50 years prior to that, TV was also just another communications channel. Each of these can add value to the brand in how it interacts and communicates with its consumers. THEREFORE: There will most likely be another new media channel that will offer even cooler ways to communicate between consumers and brands.

Our company looks at what brands can do to get the most out of their social media investments. Social media is a unique communications channel for marketers to understand what consumers are saying and how they can interact with them. But brands are still in control to drive brand ROI.

Let me know what you think. Am I totally off-base or is social media just a bit over hyped?