Published on February 4th, 2013 | by Amy Edwards1
Why Are Some Big Brands Still Refusing To Embrace Social Media?
By Amy @BubbleJobs
Whether it’s catching up on the latest news or sharing a great article with your friends, there’s no getting away from social media in 2013. Yep, social media has come a long way since its humble Friends Reunited origins and it’s now an integral part of our lives – so much so that it’s actually changed the way we communicate online.
Now, when I talk about communication, I’m not just talking about communicating with friends, family and people we know in general. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter in particular, it’s now possible to directly communicate with our favourite celebs, local MPs, brands and industry leaders in a quick and relatively easy manner.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that social media has dramatically changed the face of customer service and how brands interact with their customers forever – definitely in a good way! Rather than racking up huge phone bills waiting in endless telephone queues, customers can now send a quick tweet or post on a brand’s Facebook wall and receive a timely, personal response in minutes (well, depending on how good or busy the team in question is!) – this essentially saves both the customer and the brand time, money and resources.
Yep, on the face of it, it would seem social media is now an essential tool for any brand – and in fact most brands have already embraced it and are leading the way – however there are still some brands that refuse to acknowledge or understand just how valuable social media can be… I am of course talking about Ryanair and HMV (to name but a few!).
First up, Ryanair have appointed a new comms head for (in their own words) “the worst job in PR”. Yep, Robin Kiely is now the guy that’s going to be grilled on breakfast TV over fat profits and poor customer service but it’s his comments on social media rather than his appointment that’s made the news over the last few weeks.
When questioned over his future strategy, Mr Kiely confirmed that social media would not feature heavily. He said that while other airlines had successfully implemented a social media strategy, platforms like Facebook and Twitter “would not be helpful” to Ryanair as they “would have so many people looking for a response”… well, duh! Moving on, he said that maintaining a Facebook account would mean “hiring two more people to just sit on Facebook all day”- D’oh!
After reading his comments, I think Mr Kiely seems to have missed the point of social media altogether… OK, so they do have their own Twitter account but on first glance it only seems to broadcast messages rather than reply to customers so it’s not really the interactive feed most customers are looking for.
Then there’s HMV. Now, there’s no way you could have missed this story. Last week disgruntled HMV staff took over the brand’s Twitter account to update the nation (and indeed the world) on mass redundancies within the HMV HQ. Now, this alone is damaging enough but when you add in the fact that the brand’s Head of Marketing was overheard to ask “How do I shut down Twitter?”, the account was allegedly set up by an intern two years ago and the mystery tweeter stepped forward to say she’d sent the tweets to show senior staff just how important and powerful social media can be, it all gets rather embarrassing for the now defunct brand- ouch!
Now, the thing with HMV is that they did have an active account that boasted more than 70,000 followers so on the face of it they were embracing social media, however (and I’m sure they’re not alone on this) it looks like senior members of the brand remain clueless on how important platforms like Twitter actually are – I mean, the brand’s Head of Marketing asked how you “shut Twitter down”… not the words of a man who’s knowledgeable about all areas of marketing in 2013.
I really don’t understand how brands can remain so stubborn when it comes to social media. Running a successful brand is all about keeping up with the times and adapting to cope with the changing needs of the customer. It’s clear that the majority of the world’s population are on some form of social network (the figures are there to see) so brands need to ensure they have an active presence on all platforms to ensure they’re catering for all customers. At the end of the day, great, timely customer service leads to happy, loyal customers and social media can play a big role.
By refusing to embrace social media or understand the importance of it, brands are effectively shooting themselves in the foot – they’re showing their reluctance to “get with the times” and in the process are portraying an archaic, outdated brand image – something which no modern consumer can relate to. OK, so Ryanair’s Mr Kiely has a point – they are going to have to employ more people if they fully integrate social media into their communications strategy, however if it leads to better customer satisfaction, more bookings and more repeat bookings overall, surely it’s worth it?!
Brands need to stop thinking about the here and now and start thinking about the future – and, whether they like it or not, the future is definitely social so they need to put their hand in their pocket get on board now… before it’s too late!
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