Social Media provides for ‘Conversations’ both Positive and Negative

More and more companies are launching their Twitter accounts, blogs and Facebook pages exploring how these social media tools can better communicated their brands. An important first step is to listen and learn from what other companies are doing that is successful and what is not.

Before providing an example of a company that is currently using social media well and one company that is not I think it is important to describe why and how a company moves to launching a social media tool.

Social media is bringing a big change with a transition from one-way broadcast information to conversational marketing and public relations. What exactly does this mean?

Social Media will make marketing and public relations more of a conversation instead of just a one-way broadcast. For example, when a company places an advertisement in a magazine this is a form of a one-way broadcast of information. There is no feedback channel for the viewers of the ad. It is difficult to know how the ad was received and if it hit the target audience.

Now take a blog post by a company. Immediate feedback can be received through comments or links to other blogs providing a conversation to happen. As I have written about before these new social media tools are fostering in me and others a strong sense of empowerment to participate in the dialogue.

Here are some tips to remember before launching a social media platform at work.

  • Be first
  • Engage in a conversation
  • Most powerful communications tool is word of mouth
  • Part of our integrated communications plan

Before you can launch you will need to make a business case for social media.

  • Do not start with a social media plan; start with how can we reach company goals
  • Compare the cost of traditional face to face media versus less costly social media
  • Use pilots or research to show the new role social media plays in achieving behavior change
  • New media does not replace old media or personal relationships
Boeing Blog - Randy's Journal

Boeing Blog - Randy's Journal

The Boeing Company is showing that the new tools can make a difference with employees and customers positive perception and willingness to participate in the dialogue. The reason Boeing is successful with its social media tools are they are built into an integrated communications plan with new and old media tools.

The Boeing blog, Facebook and Twitter pages are platforms that build on traditional marketing channels like media relations and executive speeches to build brand awareness. The blog is titled Randy’s Journal and was started in January 2005 as a way to expand the conversation for Boeing.

Originated by Randy Baseler, this corporate blog is now hosted by Randy Tinseth, vice president for marketing and is on its way to one million visitors. The posts are about 4-5 times a month with a range of comments per post of about 5-20.

This is a gold standard for defense and aerospace blogs and is one of the better general corporate blogs. Randy’s Journal has a big following and influence in the aviation community.

Starbucks online campaign goes wrong

Starbucks online campaign goes wrong

On the contrary, in a recent campaign, Starbucks displayed advertising posters in six major cities and tried to use the power of social media to further spread its message – only it backfired.

According to Bloggasm “anti-Starbucks people were encouraged to take pictures of themselves in front of Starbucks stores holding signs targeted at the company’s ‘anti-labor practices.’” These were then posted using the same Twitter hashtags for the Starbucks campaign.

It shows how the intentions of a companies marketing campaign can be influenced by the ‘conversation’ provide by social media tools.


One Response to Social Media provides for ‘Conversations’ both Positive and Negative

  1. Good outline up front of your point of view on what makes and successful social media effort. The positive example of Boeing is similarly well outlined and supports your point of the importance of integrated communications very well. The Starbucks example could fit into this as well, but your description of their issues and analysis of it feels a bit short and misses that chance to connect the dots to your earlier framework and how they could have improved or done things differently. (3)

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