Does social work for every brand?


Deutsch: Discofeeling

Deutsch: Discofeeling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Femfresh came a cropper back in June, some argued that it was a brand that was intrinsically ill-suited for social. After all, how many people would want to be seen to like a feminine hygiene product on Facebook?

Euan Semple skirts this issue when he talks about some brands getting ‘into social’. He likened them, at a Digital Surrey event last week, to a dad dancing at a disco. “You’re proud of him for giving it a go,” he said. “But you wish he’d sit down.”

We work a lot with financial services brands which operate in a tightly regulated environment. This makes it tough to respond naturally and in anything like as real-time as the fluid and admirable O2, for example.

So should we assume then that social is only for brands which are already naturally engaging, aspirational and great at dancing?

If getting involved is a challenge, FS brands could hire the social equivalent of a body double and see how that works. Bodyform recently chose that route, achieving great viewing figures and industry acclaim for its video rejoinder to a comment on its Facebook page.

But surely, this is missing the point.

Some of those dancing dad brands aren’t there just because everyone else is on the dancefloor. Some are learning to engage in a new and changing world. Their customers, employees and partners are changing the way they communicate. Brands have no choice but to deal with the change. So they need to get in amongst it to understand it. And look for the opportunities to make a real connection with the people that are important to them.

Just being in it, isn’t enough. Bodyform was a great campaign tactic but it missed a trick by not being authentic. Femfresh got their fingers burned and missed a trick by not connecting with and understanding their detractors. These could have been valuable opportunities to learn about engaging in a world transformed by social. These brands do have interested communities active online had they been handled differently.

I don’t think Euan Semple was suggesting that some brands shouldn’t ‘do social’. His position rather was that we have amazing tools at our disposal now that can help us connect like never before.

Not every brand needs to be on Facebook. But every brand needs to understand the impact of social.

Because the opportunity of social is not really about scoring an extra point for awareness on your brand recognition tracker.

The real impact is far more strategic. It’s about building real relationships with the people that matter to your business, so that you can do better business with them.


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  1. Quoteyoutoday:

    You’re dead right about financial services.

    Frankly, I often feel hamstrung waiting for a blog about something current to be cleared by comliance. And it looks a bit silly, when I’ve written the damn thing in a very timely manner and made some good points to contribute to a debate that’s pretty much over by the time the blog gets published days later >:(

  2. Euan:

    Not sure I skirted the issue!!! But agree with your post.


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  4. Antony Mayfield:

    Great post, Jane - that’s the truth.

    It’s not that brands shouldn’t do social because they are in a certain sector, it’s that they don’t have the self confidence and the integrity to do it properly. That means saying things and meaning them.

    Thanks also for the link to The Fallacy of Social Media - hadn’t seen that and it’s absolutely brilliant.

  5. Chux:

    Insightful post Jane.

    I always ponder that question whether some brands are suited to social because of their sector, but perhaps social media could be used in a different way - i.e. as a means of handling customer service issues and complaints, or measuring sentiment towards their brand.

  6. Jane Franklin:

    Thanks all for your comments - and sorry for a delayed response.

    @QuoteYouToday - I hear you. Be strong! I think the thing is to keep pushing forward.

    @Euan - I was worried I might have positioned it wrong but was keen to use your analogy.

    @Antony - good to hear from you. Integrity and authenticity are powerful. And scary. Have to hat-tip @MattRhodes for the Fallacy article

    @Chux - think you’re right, if social media are tools to connect, how you use them should be about what you need to do, not what others are up to.