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Social media minefield

Social media minefield

Brands that use social media can be either highly successful or just downright annoying, according to Ali Sinaei, head of online advertising at Here’s how to get it right.

November 16, 2010 10:02 by

Don’t: Unsolicited = Bad
Again, you need to think about why your prospect or consumer is on that particular social media site. It’s OK to connect to a user on LinkedIn even if you don’t know them, if you are trying to create a business link or perhaps offer them a job. It is not OK to connect to strangers on Facebook to tell them why they should buy your magazine or come to your store.

Don’t: Social media sites are not a dumping ground for your press releases.
Use your social media profile to have dynamic conversations with your prospects or consumers. Remember that your community manager, or whoever is speaking on your behalf, is speaking with the brand-values’ hat on and that every interaction could potentially be make or break. Do not bore consumers with your latest wonderful piece of PR. Listen to what they are saying and respond to them personally. Remember – it’s better to create one new strong bond with a consumer every day than to drive away 100 bored customers.

Do: Monitor, monitor, monitor
Finally, remember that the maintenance of your social media profile is not a 9-5 job. Conversations about your brand, or at least your product or service, will be happening at all times whether you are there to hear them or not. If you’re there, you at least give yourself a chance to be a part of that conversation, and firefight if needed.
A great analogy I once heard was: “How does Batman sleep at night?” In short, there will always be conversations to be had, and fires to be put out, so devote as much resource as you can spare at all times.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Now that doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Here are three examples of companies that have had varying experiences with social media.

The Good
This campaign did what I like best: It made me laugh while discovering more about something I’m interested in. Hiroshi and Osamu is a wonderfully thought-out initiative by Chevrolet. Supremely simple in concept, the tongue-in-cheek factor as well as excellent execution ensured that the campaign was a great success. The basic story is that Kenshin, a high ranking official in the Japanese auto industry, sends two loyal employees — Hiroshi and Osamu — to the Middle East to find out why Chevrolet cars are outselling their Japanese counterparts. Their findings ultimately focused on the main strengths of the American behemoth: Low cost of ownership, peace-of-mind, safety, and quality, reliability and durability. Although the campaign was launched across multiple media, the real litmus test of its success was the incredible virality and interactivity of its Facebook profile. It collected more than 24,000 fans – and still growing – and received a huge amount of positive press.
The lesson: the Facebook page was manned at all times, all questions were answered, and the theme – a humorous look at an important buying decision – remained true throughout.

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  1. Ronald on November 18, 2010 9:51 am

    Very interesting article on a very volatile medium. there are many ugly stories and a few good one, ugly can be described with the launch of the Honda Crosstour on Facebook, the car, the brand, the designers and the deciders at Honda were massacred by the public, to the extend Honda was so overwhelmed they took the whole site off… something similar happened when Fritz Henderson resigned and everyone on the GM FB page reacted and his daughter’s flaming comments towards GM, the posters and the nation caused much unneeded embarrassment to all involved.

    As for the Kutcher/CNN stunt on Twitter, well not entirely sure, Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore are widely regarded as the god parents of Twitter, so i think CNN used their popularity on the medium to get a head-start on its Twitter spread. you have to remember that with the start of the i-Report desk and blogs and since CNN has been trying to connect with the Younger Generation, so I don’t think it was Ugly, at least from their vantage point. but for a bystander that thinks CNN is for mature business men and just that, it would look odd and damaging to its brand values…but the world is changing and those mature Business men should take note and start accepting it, or switch to bloomberg, or BBC world

  2. Ali Sinaei on November 24, 2010 1:51 pm

    Thanks Ronald!

    I guess there is definitely something to be said about appealing to a younger generation. With the rise in popularity of satirical programming such as John Stewart’s The Daily Show and The Young Turks, the decision makers of the future are getting used to current affairs being discussed in a language closer to home… it makes perfect sense for the news platforms to make a similar shift both in terms of content, language and delivery.

    Having said that, for the time being at least, I do believe there is a very real chance is this kind of strategy landing networks like CNN in a form of no man’s land, in that they do not know where they sit and who they want to appeal to – ultimately, they are not The Daily Show, and if they do move too far away from Bloomberg or BBC, where exactly will they find themselves?

    Having said all that, I’m still undecided :-)

  3. Andrew on November 24, 2010 6:32 pm

    Social media in these parts often seems to be little more than a way of shovelling the usual one-sided messages down a new channel, trying to encourage the kind of brand worship we see with Apple. At worst it seems to openly insult the very people it claims to want to speak to.

    I know of a case where a friend of mine was added on facebook by a certain well known Abu Dhabi property tycoon (or someone working for him). They said they were canvassing the people of Abu Dhabi for their opinions on the company and their developments. My friend stated his rather negative opinion, but did so rationally support with point-by-point details … they were simply deleted. Apparently he didn’t want his opinion after all.

  4. Salah Almhamdi on December 24, 2010 2:42 pm

    It’s a wonderful article but I want to say that the race was between Ashton Kutcher and Larry King. And Kutcher won ultimately.


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