Trust us when we say, that bite is truly avoidable! How? Understand your market (from their viewpoint) and plan well.
It’s not enough to ‘think’ you know your market. While primary and secondary research tends to give marketers insight often both can be skewed or biased by asking questions that the researcher knows (in advance) will provide the answers required internally to make a case for releasing a new product, service or campaign. As for secondary research, we urge you to ask yourself two questions before using the findings: “What was the methodology and is it sound?” and “How do these research findings help the company sell more of ‘their’ products and services (i.e. is it self-serving)?” At the end of the day, the key is to understand your audience, especially where they live on-line and why/how they interact. Doing so will provide you with a true sense of the culture and community that might have developed.
Why plan? Well that should be obvious, but a lot of marketers still struggle with planning. In the social media space knowing the audience first and planning accordingly should be your top two priorities.
We have seen over and over examples of companies that may have missed the mark in both areas and as a result may have felt a bit of a social media bite (Southwest Air, Tropicana, Pepsi, Motrin and more).
In time organizations will learn, hopefully, that doing social media to be cool or to push messaging just doesn’t work. Using social media as a channel is a legitimate marketing endeavor and it’s important to understand that the channel is full of people who hear you and talk back.
Now, I know what you are thinking… Social media might be dangerous for your brand. But in reality, you can’t stop people talking about your brand online. At the end of the day is a negative reaction in the social media space truly a bad thing? It’s can be an opportunity to turn around a situation that without social media you might never have known about. In the past you would have just lost a customer or ten (word of mouth is just as powerful as social media!). If getting feedback helps a company learn what their market wants, identify their true evangelists and perhaps even develop new products/services is it worth it? Forrester thinks so.
What do you think? Time to take a few steps back before diving into social media without audience research and a smart plan?