Everybody wants to be in the Social Media space these days, that’s quite evident. People ask for ‘facebook strategies’, without quite knowing what they want to do in the space or what to get out of it. The question that plagues brand managers today is how much of a presence should a brand have in the social media space. Those that are afraid to take the first step take comfort in a buzz word that seems to be doing the rounds these days. Online Reputation Management (ORM) the online version of a PR activity that tries to counter negative chatter that a brand might face. The reality – this is at best, a stop gap solution.
What a brand does need to do is adopt social media as a way of life. The medium offers a 24/7 monitor of the brand’s equity pulse. A direct feed into what your customers really think about you. Brand’s that are bold enough to do something don’t cover the negativity but rather take active steps to ensure that consumer grievances are handled well. The result, people who are griping about the brand turn into brand advocates over a period (sometimes, even overnight!) and thus countering the negative flow.
What this means is that the onus at the end of the day lies not with the agencies that profess to dole out social media solutions but the client. And it goes way beyond the marketing department from the client. Grievances that are posted on a brand’s facebook wall can be rooted to logistics, marketing, product distribution and even product design.
However social media done well can create a lot of positive buzz around a brand. It can create interest for an upcoming brand launch. It can connect to customers even on a personal note perhaps on an event like a customer’s birthday. A brand that seems to be leveraging Twitter very well is Starbucks Coffee that is set to open outlets across India in collaboration with Tata Coffee. The Twitter page of Starbucks is fast amassing a wealth of fans, tantalising them for the upcoming brand launch. However due to some reason that Twitter page was subsequently pulled down. Wonder what happened! A quick search on Google and I came across the Starbucks Facebook page for India. Oddly a search within Facebook didn’t get me many results. Still an interesting space to watch. Starbucks for its upcoming Social Media Strategy and the entire social media branding space in India as brands clamber to be the first in their sector to climb on the bandwagon.