« The Web2.0 era has created new consumer needs »

Social media marketing and its adoption has become a sort of a trend. The fact that its acceptance a service of mass appeal caught many marketers by surprise is perhaps one reason why every brand is hopping on to the social media bandwagon. However, there are numerous hits and misses which come forth every week. What is it that marketers should consider when investing in the medium and what should they expect out of it?

The Web2.0 era has created new consumer needs. The main reason is the fact that Internet is the medium for the instantaneous and uncontrolled transmission of ideas. Consequently, people complain as fast as they are seduced by a brand. Thus, marketers are faced with a daunting question – how do I take care of brand awareness and loyalty in this context?

First of all, before speaking about measurability of a social media campaign, we should think what the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are. For instance, most of the companies try to get as many “Likes” as they can without knowing that it is not the most important KPI. A “Like” does not necessarily mean that the user spent time on the page or engaged in a meaningful conversation. However, social media remains a communication campaign. Consequently, companies should further focus on whether the message has been correctly delivered instead of struggling to get thousand of ‘Likes’. Learning to define the relevant KPIs for a company is the key. This approach helps the marketer in understanding what to expect from the investment.

So if marketers are just pursuing qualitative metrics like the number of fans and page ‘Likes’ does that mean that there is an understanding gap? What are the key rules that need to be kept in mind with respect to the Web 2.0 fabric when conceptualising and executing a digital campaign? What if the brand gets trapped in a controversy resulting in a crisis? How are brands supposed to respond to that?

The first thing that marketers need to consider and understand well before plunging into the ‘conversation’ is the nature of the Internet in its current avatar – which is principal transparency.

Whatever happens within the four walls of the world wide web is observable to all stakeholders. As a result, if a social media page contains only positive comments, it will be taken for concocted content. Further, a lot of companies make the mistake of not responding at all. They just choose to ignore the negativity assuming that it will be soon lost and forgotten. This approach mostly backfires. Then there is this breed of social media managers who just can’t withstand anything negative against the brand. They over-moderate the conversation in a bid to persuade people that their brand is the best. Those who do so end up losing to the social power of Web 2.0.

Talking about crises, these are opportunities to understand what works with the discerning consumer in the online space and what doesn’t. It also give brands valuable insights into how netizens respond to different campaign. With this knowledge, brand managers can come up with more impactful strategies. In case there is a crisis, the company should try to look back at what it wanted to achieve. For instance, if the main goal was brand awareness then the company will have to measure the direct impact and plan a new social media strategy to reverse the damage. Before asking how to measure, brands should think about what to measure. There are several ways to engage people online. Cross-branding into social gaming for instance is highly effective.

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