I spent day 3 in Mumbai attending 5 Social Media Week (SMW) panel discussion and presentation sessions, this after zigzagging my way through buzzing traffic from one end of this city to the event venue and back – an experience all on its own.
Topics of attended SMW sessions ranged from impact of social media on politics and education to hardwiring SoLoMo to business. While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the sessions, a presentation by Mindshift Interactive got me thinking about never-ending challenges brands trying to conquer the social networking media face. This tweet from Oprah Winfrey, posted November 2012, makes the point:
Just before some of you roll eyes backwards, I know Oprah’s gaffe above is old news, but stick with me. The point here is that brands continue to look for ways to “beat the system” on social media, including weaving brand messages into influential netizens’ posts – for a fee, of course. As Microsoft found out, not all attempts succeed when spreading messages through humans, the mere creatures of habit, especially when there is no full control on how they go about it – no approved script, no retakes, no edits, and no post production opportunities. Not even Oprah is immune to this feeble, as emphatically demonstrated by her tweet that was promoting the Surface tablet while using iPad as a posting device :(
Here is my scribbled spider diagram coming out of Mindshift’s presentation that was advocating for usage of INFLUENCER RELATIONS (IR) as a tool to establish and grow brand presence on social media:
My key insight from the presentation is that brands must have clearly defined long-term social media goals that are measurable. Given the nature of these new media where 67% of netizens believe what their friends and family say more than they do brands, INFLUENCERS play a key role in the achievement of set goals. However, brands must invest time – not only money – in segmenting, identifying and building meaningful relationships with the right INFLUENCERS who can become true evangelists. Challenges will still remain, in my view, including fact that the pool of online INFLUENCERS is generally small, and there are no clear and/or universal rules of engagement in many instances. With these in mind, when many brands start tapping into IR as a strategic tool, the Oprah example cannot be completely avoided. At best, a crisis communication must accompany IR strategy.