For business people used to marketing in the traditional way, the new way of marketing can be confusing. There’s little wonder that this is the case because the fundamentals of marketing have, essentially, be turned on their head.
With traditional marketing, companies created, controlled their brand and crafted it in such a way as to appeal to their target audience. These days control of the brand has been turned over to consumers. Whilst this is great news for Joe Public, it can create major headaches for organisations used to the old way but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Numerous articles both in the press and on TV have drawn attention to corporate new media fiascos, note able among them the Tim Horton employees’ Facebook group (which poked fun and more at their employer), Wallmart (the company created a fake blog and got caught out) and the social network groups against telecommunications changes in Canada (customers banding together to mass complain in networking forums). These are all examples of how companies have failed to recognise the true nature of new media.
Companies should not try to use the forums to control their brand – it will back fire and you will be caught out. You cannot manipulate your audience. A seachange in thinking needs to happen where companies recognise these forums as a constant interactive loop rather than a one way street. Rather than a threat, make social media work to corporate advantage. Its a great way to understand your audience, customers and to better serve their needs.
Organisations should put in place policies and processes to: manage and monitor employee participation (put it in your company handbook); to use these forums as research tools to help keep a pulse on the industry; to improve brand awareness through better customer service, and in getting creative by using these new media to build positive consumer loyalty.
New media needn’t be scarey for marketers. Simply take time to understand how the changes are playing out in your industry and alter your marketing approach to include your consumer/audience rather than exclude them. Look on this as an opportunity and not a threat.