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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 Bayt.com. Here’s how to get it right.
November 16, 2010 10:02 by Samuel Potter
In the spirit of chivalry, I cannot bring myself to talk badly about another organisation in the region – and I do want to keep this one regional – so I’m going to talk about my own company – Bayt.com. Don’t be so surprised. We’re not perfect, you know.
Basically, we were so keen to start engaging our users on social media sites that we jumped into dialogue with them before having a really solid strategy. The result? For the longest time, our Twitter and Facebook accounts were effectively a live stream of the latest content on Bayt.com. What value was there to that when users could just visit Bayt and get the same content? Well, not much, really. Then we decided to turn the tables around and “do” social media right. We got rid of the automated RSS feeds littering our Twitter microposts and the automated job postings on Facebook. We started listening to conversations happening on social media sites and targeting relevant jobs to the people who were actually looking for them. We decided to start sharing our office culture on Facebook by posting pictures of birthdays at Bayt and soccer games that our employees took part in (and lost, I might add). I’m happy to say that we now have a much more dynamic approach, and that we keep our social media profiles manned at all times, so as to make sure that the conversations are taking place no matter what time of the day.
The lesson: It’s not enough to just “be there”. We all need to ensure that we put as much effort into creating a unique presence on social media sites as we would if we had a group of our most important customers visiting out our offices.
As some of you may know, there was a very public race between the celebrity Ashton Kutcher and CNN. Kutcher challenged CNN to see who would be the first to reach one million Twitter followers. Honestly, I don’t know – and don’t really care – to know who won that race. I’m not even going to bother to research it for the purposes of this article. What I do know though is that they both achieved the million followers mark and plenty more, but what did CNN really gain? Credibility? If the endgame was just getting more followers, then job done. But the grey area here is quality over quantity: Should a news network like CNN get involved in what can be described as a blatant publicity stunt? You decide.
The lesson: Know your objectives before you start out. If the objective for CNN here was gain a million twitter followers no matter what the methods, then this is a success. But the reason I placed it in the “Ugly” department is because many would argue that how they got there will ultimately help erode the brand as a trusted news provider. I would love to hear your views on this. I’m undecided.
In short, as brands we must all try to remember that we must not treat our usage of social media as just another tick-box. We have to remember that these are real interactions happening with real people who may very well have the potential to be real consumers.
Ali Sinaei is head of online advertising for Bayt.com.
– Gulf Marketing Review