You can’t have a conversation with a marketer these days without them mentioning social media at least three times.
The airline company underestimated the power of social media recently when United forcibly removed 69-year-old passenger David Dao against his will from United Flight 3411. The flight scheduled to leave Chicago for Louisville on Sunday evening, April 9 became an overnight brand crisis for United. The airline needed 4 passengers to give up seats to fly crew to Louisville. 3 volunteered, but United still needed a fourth.
At random, they selected the seat of David Dao. He refused and was then forcibly removed. Other passengers filmed Dao being dragged off the plane by security personnel and getting injured.
From there social media took over! Within a matter of hours, the video has gone viral and outrage ensued.
Apologies from CEO Oscar Munoz were ineffective, and many called for his resignation.
The beverage company released a TV commercial with reality star and supermodel Kendall Jenner earlier this month, which featured a protest. The star approaches the police and defuses tensions by handing one a can of soda.
Pepsi misread their audience.
Instead of inspiring of a message of unity, it provoked a huge, negative reaction on social media. Many accused the brand of blatantly appropriating the spirit and imagery of the anti-Trump resistance, Black Lives Matter, and other movements in order to sell soda.
Adidas is the latest to feel the power of social media. The reaction to its extremely insensitive email sent after the Boston Marathon, with the subject line “Congrats, you’ve survived the Boston Marathon”.
Naturally, the reaction has been swift with many screenshotting the email or commenting online.
The sports apparel company quickly apologized, saying it was “incredibly sorry” for the “insensitive” subject line.
It’s fair to say that enough has been said about these three companies and their social media game in recent weeks.
What it highlights is the power of social media cannot be underestimated. Does this mean that unless you have the knowledge and resources to effectively manage social channels, social media shouldn’t be a component of your marketing strategy?
Why Social Media shouldn’t be a component of your Marketing Strategy?
Marketing is complex. It involves the juggling of multiple channels, an in-depth understanding of the customer, the ability to read data, and more recently, precognition (the ability to see into the future)!
The complex nature of this field is largely why new technology that automates cross-channel marketing and allows for enhanced analytics are so popular.
It’s easy to run from fear. Fear of brand crises for example. So instead of fearing social backlash, the question you need to ask yourself is…
How should we use Social Media?
A common mistake amongst marketers is that social media is just a tool for mass distribution. It’s actually a lot more.
Firstly, it’s a listening tool. Social media’s greatest power is that it enables brands to listen, by monitoring their target customers and learning about what they are talking about.
Due to this listening aspect, social media also offers marketers the opportunity to collect in-depth data on their customers. This analysis can impact the direction of a company, ignite future growth, and help stay ahead of competitors.
Social media is a tool of engagement. It really is the first example of conversation marketing, which with chatbots and messaging apps, is becoming more important.