Social media is the new popular kid at school. The one whose dad just got a big promotion prompting his family to move in a couple houses down. He has the coolest bike, the newest video games, the nicest clothes and a trampoline! All the girls love him and all the guys want to hang out with him. Except brands.
When it comes to the world of social media, brands are the cool kids who have been dethroned by the new kid at school. They used to run the show through means of traditional marketing and brand management, but have lost the spotlight to the internet and social media.
In his post, “A Control Freak’s Guide to Social Media Influence,” found on Mashable, Paul Worthington talks about the inability for brands to fully utilize social media as a means of influence because they are unable to relinquish their illusion of control.
Worthington explains that brands have always sought to control the thoughts of the perspective audiences when the key has always been influence. This false belief is what has a lot of branding managers jealous of the new kid on the block and reluctant to embrace social media.
In these new times where social media is reigning supreme in the world of online influence, brands need to change their strategy and give up the ideal of control. Worthington tries to help them by providing three principles that good influencers demonstrate:
1. Listen then respond– “Before engaging with the conversation it’s important to first listen to it, see what is being said and interpret what this means.”
2. Be comfortable with ambiguity– “Conversation is messy, real time, and often capricious. At first what you see will appear chaotic, unmanageable and intimidating. The reality is that it isn’t your job to manage or control it – but to respond to it.”
3. Filter through your purpose– ” Here, having a strong brand purpose is a crucial tool – it becomes the tangible filter through which you listen and respond.”
I think that all companies would be wise to apply these suggestions to any social media influence that they hope to attain. I am an active user of social media and, to me, it seems like too many brands are trying to use social media for marketing and public relations means, but are doing so ineffectively. They are too stuck in their old ways to fully embrace the new kid and try out his trampoline. Times are changing quickly with new social media applications coming out daily and I think for any company to be successful they need to quickly change their attitudes about social media and dive in head first or they will be left behind.
What do you think? Are brands not applying themselves enough when it comes to social media? Is this trend going to be around enough for companies to invest a lot of attention into? What are some successful branding techniques that companies have been using on social media?