It's a dichotomy that we're facing in social media marketing. On the one hand, it's been said time and time again that social media marketing is about relinquishing control: learn to let go and let your customers do the talking for you.
On the other hand, marketers want to control the message. The whole point of marketing is to shine a product in a certain light and make sure that the conversations about the product are dictated according to the brand strategy - perhaps a bring-over from the days when the democratization of consumers was not a reality.
How do we bridge this divide between social media and marketing?
Control the Forum
The conversations that occur in any setting, both offline and online, are shaped by the setting and it is important to get this right. A few questions to ask yourself:
As a real-world example, our agency recently created an interactive microsite for a technology client with an accompanying Facebook fan page.
Early on, the decision was made to tie the fan page to the microsite instead of the overall brand umbrella. However, we discovered early on that the conversations on the fan page started centering themselves on the microsite that we had created rather than the product itself.
We then quickly shifted the focus of the page by steering the editorial content of the page, crafting our replies to comments to bring in more product mentions, and developing a mechanic to encourage members to talk more about the product itself - most importantly, without ignoring the conversations that were already happening on the site.
Be Humble, but Firm With Troublemakers
Anyone who has done any work in managing communities will have come across this problem before - an errant member of the community will start posting all kinds of nasty posts and conversations about your brand. Tread carefully. There are generally two kinds of negative commentators:
In this column, I've talked about only two facets of conversations. However, there is a common thread, which is to approach conversations as you would approach a group of consumers in real life. Conversations in real life and online are not much different with a few key exceptions - the illusion of anonymity online gives consumers a louder more daring voice, and the medium of the Internet allows for amplification of that voice for better or worse.
The key takeaway then is to approach with forethought, and control the forum of discussion much like a moderator would in a panel to craft your brand message, but do not try to control individual conversations or discussions themselves. With this philosophy driving your brand communications in social media, you can start taking advantage of this powerful communications platform.
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Adrian is the chief of digital marketing and technology in Yolk, a Grey Group company, one of Asia's leading interactive and digital media agencies with over 40 employees headquartered in Singapore. Adrian joined Yolk in 2005 and helped shape the vision towards a company where creative and technology is inexplicably linked to serve the higher purpose of marketing. With this approach, Yolk managed to secure regional accounts such as Microsoft, Cibavision, and Canon. Adrian has 12 years of experience in the digital industry with parts of those years spent in Microsoft being in charge of MSN Search, Portal, and advertising platforms, overseeing the expansion of MSN portal from a single market (Singapore) to five markets across Southeast Asia, part of the team that piloted Microsoft adCentre in Singapore and won "Global Product Manager of the Year" at Microsoft in 2004. His technological background is well complemented with his five years experience in advertising and publishing industry. Technology solutions, which Adrian creates, always serve the purpose of his clients in bridging the latest technologies with marketing strategies to boost their campaigns to their fullest potential. When not knee deep in technology, he produces electronic music under various monikers.
March 19, 2014