Monday, December 1, 2008

Avoiding the Manufactured Social Media Presence Part 2: The Imaginery Customer

Pretending to be one of their own customers is amongst the biggest mistakes an organisation engaging in the social media can make. Whilst this may seem obvious, many organizations are relentless in their attempts to covertly influence the customer decision making process through the implementation of devious tactics. Unfortunately for these organizations, an artificial presence will invariably be identified as such by the community, and the exposure of attempted social media manipulation will ultimately result in damage to the brand's equity.

Transparency remains all important. Whilst it is often permissible to engage respectfully in social media based marketing, it is imperative that these efforts are identified thus; remember, the social media 'belongs' to the customer. Shrouded attempts to influence the direction of the conversation, be these through the planting of stories, the faking of reviews, or the disparaging of competitors, will inevitably lead to the organisation incurring the wrath of the community. Despite the degree of anonymity afforded by the social media, artificial engagement will always stand apart from natural content; most notably because it will fail to add value to the overall conversation.

Don't make this mistake; let the quality of your products do the talking, whilst implementing the social media as 'value added' for the customers in any manner they see fit. If on the other hand your product lacks the quality to speak for itself, my recommendation would be to refocus your efforts into other channels. Whilst the social media has the capacity to avert the development of negative online perceptions of the brand, it will not hide the limitations of your product or service offerings for long.

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