If a brand does something wrong on social media, users of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are quick to lambast the company with the wrath of a thousand suns.
Radio duo Hughesy and Kate recently told B&T the onslaught of social media has many terrified to say what they really think, for fear of having a differing opinion. However Pauline Linton, social media creative at PR agency Edelman reckons it’s actually forced brands to do the right thing.
No longer can big brands hide behind their corporations and C-suite of bosses, and the transparency critical now has many brands cowering.
“Social media has forced them more to listen, and so instead of brands traditionally thinking about what they want to say, social media has forced them to listen to what the community is saying,” Linton told B&T.
“To that end, it’s forced brands to be a lot more transparent which has kind of made brands scared into doing the right thing. As a brand, you’re so much more exposed on social media.”
It’s what Linton says Edelman’s tells its clients all the time. Social media gives brands the chance to say what they really want the public to know, rather than what they think the public wants to hear.
And if a brand isn’t willing to tackle the tough questions posed by customers on social media, why on earth are they on in it the first place?
Echoing this thought is DDB Melbourne’s managing director, Dion Appel.
“Social media is a platform for 24/7 engagement. And, just like any conversation in the morning, noon or night, brands need to be prepared to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.
“The more honest the brand is, the more people will listen. If people have valid opinions, brands should respond with transparency. If people are hating on the brand then respond with positive conviction.
“Brand tone and personality is key in social media as the platform has largely been born out of need for people to communicate. Brand’s need to humanise to engage relevantly.”
From a societal perspective however, Edelman’s Linton doesn’t believe the public shies away from social media at all. In fact, she believes it’s forcing people to be confident in what we say and to stand by our opinions.
“A lot of our clients, if they have something provocative…if they are willing to back themselves and are really confident in their position, then we say ‘by all means, say what you actually think’.”
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