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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

We’ve all heard it before: Social media is a great platform to engage consumers and increase brand value. So, instead of boring you to death with another discussion on how consumers are increasingly using social networks and how important it is for brands to exist on these platforms – blah, blah, blah – I’ll jump right ahead to the real question.
That question is: How can a corporation make use of the unstoppable force of social media?

Here are six dos and don’ts you need to be doing – and not doing – to win with social media.

Do: Know Your Audience
Linked In. Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Flickr. Digg. StumbleUpon. Scribd. MetaCafe. NetVibes. There seems to be an endless number of social networks, many of them quite successful.
The first thing that a marketer needs to do is to establish which social networks his or her consumers are actually using. There is very little point in a shipping company building a huge profile on Facebook if their target audience is more likely to be on Xing or LinkedIn.

Do: Keep the Communication Meaningful
Always remember why your prospect or consumer is using different social media platforms. Users are often on social media sites to see and be seen, to connect with friends or just keep in touch. They are not likely to want to be inundated with blatant advertising. To create “brand ambassadors” out of these consumers, you need to speak the relevant language and be very, very patient. If it suits your brand and the platform they prefer, try to engage users by using fun. If “fun” is very far from your brand values, you can be informative and provide relevant and interesting information that you know your audience would appreciate.
Be at their convenience – remember, you’re in their world now.

Do: Supplement Search Strategy
Web search advertising is extremely important, not only for driving traffic to your site, but also for retaining brand dominance. However, bear in mind that search advertising is common fare for most companies now, and even though positioning counts for a heck of a lot, consumers still rely on the most old-fashioned marketing weapon of all: Word of Mouth. To an extent, I don’t care how many times I clicked your ad and went to your website to hear YOU wax lyrical about how great you are; if I hear from a friend that your competitor is better, I’m going to put a lot of faith in that. Make sure that you exist on all the social media channels that your consumers are on, so that not only can they build a stronger relationship with you, but they can also be your brand ambassador to their network as well.
In short, Search places you up there, and allows you to be found, but real relationships can be built through connections made via social media.

And the don’ts…

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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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