Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Drosos: Social media and the dismantling of your brand

A very good article written by Mark Drosos called Who's Marketing Your Brand. Although targetted at the entertainment industry, Drosos writes that social media is changing the dynamics between consumers and marketing departments.

As Drosos writes:

"Marketing control has shifted into consumers' hands, and there is no better way to take advantage of this shift than with user-generated media. Embracing user-generated media as part of your marketing strategy provides a unique opportunity you can't get with TV, print or online media -- or even on your own website."

Although the author calls it user-generated media, the more accepted term is social media. This includes blogs, wikis, message boards, podcasts and anything else that allows people to share their experience with your brand with others on the Internet. Often, they'll bypass your website (maybe they won't visit it altogether) and create their own virtual grassroots campaign if you piss them off.

A good example of this is the Help Paul Dell campaign. Dell Computers is suing Paul Dell for using the word Dell in his company name and on his website. This resulted in an online campaign to help Paul Dell raise money for his defense and obtain free hosting to serve his regularly updated blog and website.

If Dell was smart, they would counter this growing consumer distaste by providing a spot on their corporate website for consumers to vent. Instead, they choose to ignore this online petition and go on as if it's business as usual.

Don't be a Dell. Don't ignore your customers, otherwise you'll pay the price as the disgruntled ones dismantle your brand online. Instead, embrace your customer satisfaction (and disatisfaction) by providing the tools on your website that allow your customers to interact with your brand.

You see, it's better to be in control of social media, than to ignore it. I'm not saying that you control the content. Instead, you can study it, learn from it so you can improve your products, clean up your customer service and deal with customer complaints in a timely manner.

Or, you can watch helplessly as someone launches a ihateyourcompany.com website and generate an online smear campaign all because you didn't refund their $0.59 on a tube of socks.

It's 7x more expensive to find a new customer than to keep the one you already have. So, make it easy for your consumers to play with your brand using social media tools on your corporate website. Turn that online brochure into a customer experience machine.

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