Sunday, April 03, 2011

Don't Take Social Media Seriously!

I do mean it. Companies should not take social media all that seriously!

Have I lost it? Just a couple of months back, I wrote that social media makes a great impact on the image of a company and consumers can make themselves heard quicker and be assured that they'll be responded to.

So, what has changed? Nothing. Social media continues to enjoy its status of the most powerful 'CRM' tool, today. Not only has it made companies listen to customers and respond to them faster, but it has impacted them on issues which could rather be classified as not in the 'public' domain. It has made GAP and Tropicana revert to their earlier brand avataars. Brands, really great ones, buckling under virtual pressure.

And I say nonsense!

First of all, despite being an MBA with specialization in Marketing and having worked in Communications industry for more than 10 years, I haven't quite figured out why does a logo need to be changed! Of course, many reasons are given, some meaningful while others shallow. More importantly, do companies imagine that they can change the market scenario just by changing their brand identity?

Abraham Chacko, my ex-colleague and friend, during our discussion on Airtel's new identity said that the company could have used the money more effectively by innovating and offering services to attract new customers and retain its existing base. Quite a valid point! Remember good packaging doesn't necessarily mean good product.

What it could have done is a different story. What it has done and how it will affect its position is to be seen. But what I do appreciate is that Airtel didn't buckle under the severe criticism that followed after it unveiled its new identity, unlike the others.

There's a story about the architect of the legendary Taj Mahal Hotel. Apparently, he threw himself overboard  because he found that though the hotel was built as per his design, the directions were changed! Not sure if the story is true, but am sure designers of GAP and Tropicana certainly would have felt more miserable.

Companies/Brands are taking social media far too seriously for their own good. You show disrespect not only to the consultant who (probably) has the right credential but also to your own self. Remember social media is just a part of the entire universe of customer audience for you. And most of the time, these social media netizens don't have the right credentials.

I am sure many of you would have heard the story about how Steve Jobs decided upon Apple as the brand name and how the logo came about. Can you imagine what the 'brand gurus' in social media would have said? 

Thank god, Steve Jobs didn't have to face 'experts' in social media.


Me said...

Interesting thoughts Sriganesh... :) I see two points here. 1)One is the amount of time and effort being spent on the change of brand or the change of logo. And then 2) the leveraging of social media to validate those thoughts.

I agree with you that the branding can never replace a good product. First and foremost is a good product, and then the brands. If the product itself is mesmerizing - such as Apple's - then the brand would be secondary. - Anyways, this is a another discussion.

Abotu social media usage - once the company has decided to make changes, i feel social media should be taken as a very impotant channel. That can help the company avoid a lot of heartburn and issues later. I think companies should take social media seriously and should take their sentiments into consideration before implementing a "articulation" difference.. :)

- Ippadikku

Krithika said...

Nicely written. You have called a spade, a spade.

arsh said...

Good one SG...

Point 1 - On the subject...

Companies do have to take social medias seriously as one of the tools to understand the market pulse and customer views not only of their product but also of their competitors. However I do agree that any change in the product or policies of the company should not be just based on social media. It has to be based on several factors which include the expert/ specialist opinions, Image or reputation of the Company & Product, Tradition of the Company etc. Feedback from social medias should be seen as only one of the factors.

Point 2 - On a specific example

I guess Airtel changed their logo for one important reason. In the old logo of Airtel, they did not have any specific and simple symbol to identify their brand. They had to use the whole logo for brand promotion. In the new one the 'a' of Airtel has been designed to meet this requirement. I am sure they will be using the 'a' symbol now on all promotions instead of the whole name...