Heavy Chef interviews David Graham on mistakes made by brands in social media marketing

This interview was published in Heavy Chef News by Wendy Tayler on the 10th April 2012

David Graham is the Digital Channels Executive at Deloitte South Africa. His primary responsibility is to connect and initiate dialogue across numerous digital channels between Deloitte industry and subject matter specialists and business decision makers at leading organisations in the private and public sector. Heavy Chef chatted to him about social media marketing and the common mistakes that many brands make.

DAVIDDo you think it is necessary for every brand to get involved in this particular form of marketing?

Any person, organisation, company, corporate that was engaged in traditional marketing 1.0 activities in the past, needs to transition to social media marketing. The tables have turned from a company-push to a consumer-pull model. Consumers are dictating how they want to make purchase decisions and the only way that companies can gain visibility of these preferences is to engage with clients and customers, and listen to them. The short answer to your question is a resounding yes.

What is the most common mistake brands make regarding their social media marketing?

Brands rush in too quickly without doing the necessary planning first. Social media marketing, as with any business function, requires a proper strategy to be defined first. Strategy, as you know, has to be owned and driven from the top down. Social media also has to be part of a broader marketing strategy and cannot be done in isolation. Companies also need to have realistic expectations in terms of what they hope to achieve from social media marketing. As part of the strategy, companies also need to define specific criteria to measure success, and they need to measure regularly and provide feedback to stakeholders. What many companies do not realise, if you go back to the middle ages, people would congregate in a market where people would meet, develop relationships, and as part of this process, people would buy goods and services from the marketers. Nothing has changed today except we do it virtually, more quickly and involve way more people. What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that it’s all about value networking and conversations. Companies that get this right will succeed.

How can companies best deal with stopping bad information from spreading out of control?

Bad information is shared more readily by people and travels way quicker across the Internet. The best solution is do not mess up in the first place, but that is virtually impossible. If a client has a bad experience, ensure that you make it as easy as possible for a consumer to contact your company across multiple communication channels. Secondly, ensure that you have a reputation management strategy in place to deal with incidents. If a consumer is venting on social media, attempt wherever possible to take it offline and resolve the issue. The other consideration for all organisations is to invest in software that identifies negative sentiment.

What is the best way for brands to deal with the fact that their target market is constantly changing social network platforms?

It is up to all companies participating on the various social networks to keep a constant eye on their target market to see where they are participating. They also need to conduct continual research on new trends such as Google+ and Pinterest. You cannot change consumer behaviour, but having visibility enables you to proactively move with the masses.

Thank you David. Your insight into social media marketing for brands was really insightful. You can follow David on Twitter here.

Read more posts by Wendy Tayler

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