Social engagement has to match social behavior and social expectations

Marketers have different objectives when it comes to social engagement. Some measure their success in the number of likes, retweets, and shares while some see sales as the only gauge.

Despite the ambiguity, social engagement has become essential in a world where consumers are highly dependent on their mobile phones but more generally – to technology. To adapt to this paradigm shift, more and more entrepreneurs continue to see great rewards in bringing their businesses online, marketing campaigns included.



The best brands and damage control


There are various ways for brands to socially engage with their consumers and, likewise, various ways to blow it. The problem with failing at social engagement is, when a brand takes a misstep, that misstep spreads like wildfire making it more difficult to remedy the situation. Big brands like Coca-Cola and Nestlé are not immune to the try, and try again scenario when carrying out campaigns and altering them to suit social expectations.

The common element to all these gaffes in marketing is actually quite obvious – some brands fail to listen. They haphazardly post content without research and foresight on how it could potentially affect the community. Coca-Cola, for instance, caused quite a stir in Russia back in 2016 when it posted a map of the country without the disputed region of Crimea. Worse, when it tried to resolve the problem and added the region to the ad, Ukraine cried foul and called for a boycott.

Despite a couple of mishaps every now and then, Coca-Cola nevertheless remains one of the top companies with the highest engagement rate. As of 2013, it had around 74 million fans on Facebook and an engagement rate of 1.1% (in terms of people talking about it) when even the most popular global brands barely reached half a percent.

Social expectations and patterns continue to change but the importance of making sure your campaigns are on par with them will always remain- Nestlé made a lapse in judgment back in 2010 when it responded antagonistically to negative comments on its Facebook and Twitter pages. This was following a spoof video produced by Greenpeace, which at the time was rallying against its policies on sourcing palm oil. Nestlé, in a bid to mend the slip-up, had to issue a public apology coupled with a promise to address the palm oil situation.

In the following year, Nestlé wasted no time in establishing a social media monitoring program, which called together people from across the globe to monitor activities in various platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, among others. As a result, it started gaining a holistic understanding of its digital and social engagement.



Always, always, be social


Ultimately, whether brands treat consumers as yet another dollar value or a helping hand to steer them towards the right direction, there are definitely tried and tested rules that community managers need to follow religiously in order to avoid common marketing blunders. Research is a must, responding to customer feedback, and keeping a professional tone when doing so.

According to a survey conducted by Marketing Week, more than half of participants agree that social media drives the best brand engagement. While the reason can easily be because consumers spend more time online than watching TV or reading magazines, the weightier reason would be the quality of involvement, interaction, and intimacy between brands and consumers that social media makes possible.

Although we cannot discredit how both TV and print ads have established well-known marks, both domestic and international, the difference between ads and social engagement is quite significant. Ads are a one-way communication, which speaks from advertisers to consumers, whereas social engagement allows for a two-way communication, where consumers take on a more active role in branding.


Marketing Week