Before You Take the Social Media Plunge

Katherine Bennett - January 12, 2011

Many companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon. They are on Facebook, they tweet, blog, and some have even social shopping sites which is great. However, here’s a word of warning. Make sure your company has a social media strategy before taking the social media plunge. There can be negative consequences if your company does social media with a half hearted effort or if your company jumps into the social media waters without understanding how it works.

Social media is a two way street; unlike traditional advertising, social media invites the consumer to share their ideas and thoughts. It’s more about building a relationship than telling them how wonderful your company is and expecting them to agree 100%. Although it may be difficult to believe, there may be someone that doesn’t think your business is the greatest one out there. However, social media is a great way to change their mind, but it will take time. Zappos is a great example of a company who has used Twitter to connect with consumers. The Zappos tweets come from the CEO of the company. He is not tweeting about upcoming sales; he is tweeting about fun company events, making jokes and sharing his thoughts on different activities that are occurring in his life. This is creating a bond with his followers, which makes people feel good about the Zappos brand. This can create loyal customers for life and positive word of mouth for the company. Zappos is using Twitter to show people the personality and face behind the company name. Their strategy seems to be working very well.

On the other hand, some companies have failed miserably at social media and have left a negative taste in people’s mouth because of the way they have handled certain situations. For social media to work right, there must be a plan in place. Let’s look at an example that recently happened to me. I went to the website of a well known retail store, (whose name I will not mention), and clicked on their social shopping link. On this social shopping site, there was a game of “find the coupon” (this wasn’t the actual name). Each coupon had a code that could be used for discounts on online purchases. After playing the game, I proceeded to shop online to use my new coupon codes to get discounts. However, there was one slight problem; the code I wanted to use didn’t work. Eventually, I was able to get someone to honor the discount that was on their social game site.

Here’s the issue. There was a disconnect, between this retailer’s employees and the social game that they offered. I spoke with multiple representatives and no one seemed to know about the social game. In fact, I had to explain to a representative over the phone how to find the coupon codes in their own game. Was the social game a great idea? Yes. However, it became a frustration when the code didn’t work and I have no intentions of engaging in any other social media games that this company may have in the future.

Social media is a great avenue to reach loyal consumers and potential new customers. However, to walk into the world of social media blindly is not a wise move. It’s better to wait an extra month before launching, in order to put a plan in place than to step off the cliff into the social media waters and hope your company can swim.

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