April 15, 2011

Thriving in a connected community – new route for brand communications

With consumers publicly disclosing a wealth of personal information on the plethora of social networks in the public domain, brands for the first time know exactly what’s going on in their target markets’ lives as it actually happens. Never before has there been such a marketing opportunity. However, such information must be used wisely.

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) has hit the headlines recently with brands such as Interflora brightening up the lives of fed up Twitter users by sending them flowers. Wow. Who wouldn’t be delighted by that? I, for one, know I would certainly retweet and Facebook status update that (which is entirely the point of the exercise).

RAK sees brands surprising and delighting audiences by ‘sending gifts, responding to publicly expressed moods or just showing that they care’ (source: trendbriefing.com). What it doesn’t mean is rewarding customers for tweeting or ‘liking’ your product, nor is it intended to give away samples. Execution is vital – it has to be instant, genuine, compassionate and, of course, shareable.

Social networks are key to the success of this activity. RAK can reach thousands of people rather than just the original recipient. This is thanks to the explosion in both the volume and reach of connections social media provides as the lucky recipients share details of their interesting, meaningful, funny or uplifting RAK moments.

So who should you talk to about RAK? Well, this is a long-standing debate: who is responsible for social media? PR? HR? IT? In-house or outsourced? There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. In fact, the USP of social media is that everyone has a voice – that’s what makes for interesting reading. But first and foremost social media is all about communication; building relationships and sharing company information. And in the case of RAK, spreading the love!

If you were considering those objectives outside of the social media spectrum you would of course place the responsibility with PR. HR and IT are simply not equipped for such a brief and it is for these reasons that we have placed our social media responsibility within our PR services.

PR is the best means to develop strategy, ensure consistency and maintain brand approach. It is also best-placed to ensure social media is integrated into the marketing mix and overall campaign messages. In light of this, the benefits of outsourcing your social media activity – and to an integrated agency with an experienced SEO team to maximise the campaign’s impact – are clear. And this decision is backed up by almost all of the surveys conducted on the subject – Wildfire PR’s survey of 250 marketing heads found 27 percent thought PR should run social media for their business; another by PR Week found 62 percent thought PR is best suited to own the function. In both surveys no other service scored more than 10 percent of the votes.