The growing power of social media means that it can affect a brand whether they choose to engage in it or not. With many social outlets online such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Blogger etc. people are having conversations about brands whether or not the brand itself is involved. The video below shows Evan Williams, the co founder of Twitter, talking about how this social network allows us to see what people are having conversations about.
So surely it is more beneficial for a brand to get involved in these conversations? Well, this is the general consensus amongst marketers. 700,000 people join Facebook every day making it an ideal platform to reach consumers on, which is exactly what brands are trying to do. However, this is not as easy as it sounds as mentioned in my blog post about mobile technology brands have to be careful not to become annoying as they are communicating through a medium which is personal to the consumer. With 63% of people having ‘unliked’ a brand’s Facebook page due to excessive postings it is important to know how to get it right. This link is a report on how brands can raise their awareness on Facebook with one of the points being to ‘engage influencers’. In 2010 Coca Cola tried to do exactly this with their Dr. Pepper Status takeover Facebook campaign. What’s the worst that could happen? They were forced to pull the campaign due to complaints.
Now although this didn’t have any lasting damage on the brands reputation it demonstrates that there is a line in which brands need to be careful not to cross. Ethical considerations of privacy are essential when communicating with the audience. In the Dr. Pepper scenario it is fairly clear that they were trying to befriend their target audience attempting to be risky and funny with their status updates. However, they took it to the point in which they ignored the privacy of their fans- whether they liked the page or not Dr.Pepper is still a brand and in that sense may be represented as intruding for over taking peoples statuses. This link is a blog post in which Gina Chen lays out what she believes are the ethics in social media that should be followed.
There is no doubt that ethics are undeniably important within campaigns and I think within social media this is very important to recognise. When people ‘like’ or ‘follow’ a brand they are welcoming them into their own social network and their private profile. I believe this is something that brands should respect and not take advantage of. As in the end, it is pretty obvious that its the brands reputation that loses out.