I have observed with keen interest the pent-up frustration that several brands/corporate institutions have had to suffer when it comes to event or content marketing.
These brands add either an outdated page they have lost to an old employee or forge a “ghost account” with an imaginary name, all in their marketing efforts. As though that is not enough, they do this with impunity.
I believe that defeats the purpose for which the public relations/marketing efforts are carried out in the first place. An active social media presence has the potential to engender further confidence and, hence, success in PR/marketing efforts, in the digital scheme of things.
A “Call To Action” may not necessarily call interested customers to action. They will likely learn about what others have to say about the service or product offering.
In hindsight, brands totally ignore the advent of social media. There is a larger question of who to engage once these brands are either defunct or missing on the mainstream social networking sites.
There are virtual or online communities on these platforms where consumers meet to share insights and concerns about a product or service without having no response from authority (ie. Brand/corporate institution).
In the last two or so years, I have observed an interesting trend where quite a good number of organisations resorted to creating social media accounts – not presence. It actually suggested that certain industry players or competitors had an influence in a particular field.
Two years down the line, those social accounts became defunct. The repercussions are simple and two: making room for impersonation of some sort by unscrupulous people, and disengaging the consumer experience.
This brings to the fore the role of branding. Branding essentially is the influence and presentation of the image of a company/business. The message is simply social media if it is to be situated in a proper context.
Although we are in the wake of an increasing trend in social media for businesses, several brands do not want to consider the ‘social’ option at all. The answer they usually give is the time factor these platforms require.
Just as public relations, absolutely evading social media presence may come hunting you.
That notwithstanding, it is downright unacceptable for brands that are coming of age to forge social media presence or accounts. The above-mentioned is a cautionary tale for businesses that forge social media accounts, only for potential customers to be opened up to a ‘zero’ Landing Page.
It is obviously one thing to create a social media account for any given brand and it is another to manage. There have been times where one may seek clarity on a subject, product or service only to find out that the given account is being updated annually, so to speak.
The Way Forward
Investing in social media by way of time and probably a bit of human resources has the potential of saving your organisation a whole host of issues/crisis and return on investment (ROI).
It is better off to not have an owned media account on social networking platforms than to forge an account. It does not look well for the integrity and credibility the brand may have.
Then again, it is not important to be on all platforms to, as it were, prove that you are all over the place. Leverage the platform that works best for you, even without compromising on “ROI”.
I agree with the school of thought that suggests that “in about 2-3 decades from now, physical buildings may cease to operate.”
We have to be better placed in the likely event that this cutting edge research is manifested.
The stark reality is that, in the absence of a brand on mainstream social media, unscrupulous people will fill the gap.
Across the world, we are beginning to see cybersecurity issues and the proliferation of parody accounts.
Content creation is a matter of time, organisation and consistency.
For brand storytelling, goals must be set and peak times must be identified. It is one thing to create and it is another to organize and do it consistently.
In sum, brands that forge social media accounts have to rethink the negative business implications. Plus, brands that have a social media account have to take a second look at optimising their presence to meet the growing demands of customers.
Going through the quaint procedure of having to create an account on social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram is not enough. As the phrase “social media” suggests, a brand must be sociable on the platform. Social media is not the conventional press agentry model of shoving information down the throat of a target audience. The otherwise, is the way to go.
Jerry Avornyotse is a freelance journalist and writer and a PR intern/researcher with the Ministry of Roads and Highways.