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TIPS FOR COMPANIES IN DEVELOPING A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

Digital Media affect different levels of society. Not only do they provide people with new ways of interacting with each other, but these new tools also require people to adapt to them. In this respect, I wanted to better understand how digital media push corporations to reassess their communication practices, most especially towards the use of Social Media. However no matter how efficient these new approaches may prove to be, they are far from being systematically adopted.  Two main reasons came out:

First of all, most of the companies seem to be very reluctant to use these new tools. Many communication agencies have a very hard time to convince their clients to build communication strategies based on new media. They focus on the threat for their reputation and fear to lose the control over their reputation.

Secondly, most of the corporations do not address the new media challenge in a positive perspective. They consider Social Media as platforms to answer to attacks. For instance, Toyota uses its Twitter page to answer question about the recall they had to organize (http://twitter.com/TOYOTA)

For Communication and Media professionals the challenge is to convince corporations to adopt a proactive attitude to make the most of this new communication tool. Social Media should be considered as a business opportunity: a tool to make the reputation stronger.

Although there are very few companies who have adopted this proactive approach, we can still think of some principles common to successful strategies:

  • The more coherent the strategy is with the business of the company the more successful it will be.
  • The input of the company is the skills that it is able to bring to a cause which therefore will empower its messages with credibility.
  • Social Media should not be considered as a goal in itself but as a go between enabling companies to solve social issues by working hand in hand with group of people.

Regarding the Danone.communities example, at first they met great success on Facebook by organizing a contest encouraging people to submit ideas for how capitalism can be ecological, socially transformative, and profitable etc. But this was not a sustainable success : Danone.communities failed in providing a follow-up of the ideas. People’s expectations were deceived and their enthusiasm turned off.

Social Media are design to create action.

What people love about it is that they are enabled to contribute, they feel involved. Companies should seize this opportunity to mobilize people around them by making people participate.

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3 Comments

  1. Alexandra 22:29, Feb 15th, 10

    Good points, Juliette. As someone who is trying to convince her company to engage more in social media, I agree that companies see it mostly as a liability and risky rather than as potential for engaging online. For companies that are consumer-facing, the argument is pretty clear cut: there is a conversation going on about your brand out in the social media world, and you can choose to engage and say your piece or you can choose to hide your head in the sand. Your Toyota example is perfect – because if Toyota didn’t get in there and talk to consumers about their issues, they would be in such worse shape. For my company, which is mostly B to B and doesn’t have very many direct customers, it’s much harder to convince them that it’s a good idea and as far as I have been able to tell, the trail is not so clearly blazed.

  2. Leslie 23:56, Feb 15th, 10

    Hey Juliette- I definitely agree that social media should be used to entice action. It should promote talk around and about the brand, helping to integrate the brand into people’s everyday lives. Much like Toyota, Domino’s used YouTube and Twitter to help defend their reputation after a negative event surrounding their brand: http://www.marketingshift.com/2009/4/dominos-defends-reputation-online-via.cfm

    While it’s good that companies like Toyota and Dominos are using social media to address dilemmas, it’s also important for them to keep lines of communication open after the problem boils down. I’m not sure if Dominos has at all- I haven’t kept track of what they’ve been doing since the problem they had to deal with concerning 2 of their employees this past April. But, I guess we’ll be able to track what Toyota does!

    As far as the importance of creating a call to action and opening up conversation, I think Jet Blue does a fantastic job of this on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/JetBlue?ref=sgm While it doesn’t seem like it’s being done any more, Jet Blue was doing a contest just a month or two ago exclusively on Facebook where if you became a fan and gained so many points doing different things surrounding their fan page, you could enter to win free plane tickets. The company is also always posting relevant information concerning Jet Blue on Facebook, as well as asking the fans questions, and just overall engaging the fans in the brand.

    I also think that it’s important to note that not every social media site can be used in the same way. While a Facebook fan page can be all about the brand, I feel like a Twitter page cannot just be exclusively about the brand. With the latter, the brand is expected to be more consumer oriented, rather than brand oriented; a brand/company is expected to tweet about all sorts of topics that its consumer might be interested in. Otherwise, interest might be lost. Whereas on Facebook, this does not necessarily hold true.

  3. DanJee 16:27, Feb 16th, 10

    Juliette,

    As you mentioned, there are a lot of similarities between your post and some content in my post. I definitely think that there are some “fear” from businesses about losing control by using social media. However, this is really an ignorance by the businesses, because whether they choose to participate or not, they are still being discussed on-line.

    Yet, I must disagree with the statement that most companies are reluctant to use social media. More and more companies are realizing the importance of presence in social media and are looking to get more involved with it actively.

    Also, I do think social media by itself can be an important goal in brand messaging. Just by mere presence and maintenance, they are aiding their branding effort.