29 March 2010

Brands need an online social media strategy

Jeremiah Owyang  is right, a Brand should not “throw away” traffic on its corporate site by inviting visitors to join the Brand profile on Twitter or Facebook or other social site without a well thought strategy.  It is a bit like sales associates of a high street shop telling visitors on their way out: “We invite you to visit us at our small corners inside most department stores”.  This might seem to be sending the positive message “we’re present in these locations” but it might lead to the visitors buying at other Brands also located there as well as not coming back to the original store!  The same as sending a visitor of your Brand website to twitter where he/she will receive twits from many other Brands, is likely to lead to another Brand attracting more of his/her attention, and not have him/her visit your site again!

A Brand does typically spend much much more on its own website than on its social networks presence (if it has one) so if not careful, doing so might mean actually losing these visitors as potential active fan of the Brand, to become at best simple passive observers of some Brand-related activity.

However,  I am not convinced by Jeremiah’s matrix on the Evolution of Social Media Integration and Corporate Websites.  Or rather, I do not see it as a “must follow this path” for all Brands.  Let’s just take the last stage for example: “Complete integration between corporate site and social sites”.  I can think of most of the Brands in the luxury goods sector that would not benefit from such an integration.  This would lower the Brand name status too much to the level of just another network relation such as a friend on Facebook.  The Brand would risk losing its exclusive image, its capacity to generate and fulfill dreams.  Luxury Brands would need to maintain this image online and a complete integration with social media would make this difficult. 

Marci Ikeler from Publicis has a very good presentation on slideshare  “Digital strategies for luxury Brands”. 
She mentions the successful examples of Gucci on Facebook and MAC on twitter, both of which support the Brand image instead of “cheapening it”.  I noted this statement supporting Jeremiah’s first point: “The most successful luxury digital campaigns are fully integrated with a larger digital strategy and align with the brand’s values”.  But do not confuse this with a complete integration of the Brand’s website and social media!

You must read the chapter 10. Use digital to convey exclusivity (slides 43 to 45).  It shows 2 examples of exclusive social networking, illustrating why complete social mass media integration will not be beneficial for all Brands.


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