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Is digital an answer?

Posted by: Alexanda Hulme on July 21, 2011

More frequently I am hearing the term digital being used by clients and colleagues as if it’s a miracle new way for brands to engage with consumers. This idea seems to be born from the idea that using digital is easier than traditional ways of communication and can directly target a brand’s core audience.

While some of this is undoubtedly true, the relationship clients are talking about at its core has nothing to do with digital, but social. Digital, just like print and motion, is just another way for a brand to communicate – what a brand actually says is just as crucial as the medium they use to distribute that message…
One of the great aspects of the social revolution is the immediacy brands can gain through real world feedback and more direct consumer dialogue. But this two-way relationship also means brands now are quickly unmasked if they don’t live up to their values.
The recent closure of the News of the World is an interesting example of this, where previously a brand could use a considerable marketing budget to drown out any negative voices, now people can take to Twitter and Facebook to dismantle all the hard work and equity a brand has built up in a matter of hours.

The socialization of digital media now means brands have to be more conscious of their actions rather than using the medium just to push their message out, it’s more about conversation than dictation.
Brands now need to consider the message they push out into the realm of online media. This can be dissected and discussed and they may not like what comes back in the other direction.

Three ways to embrace social media

Be honest.
Thanks to the trinity of Google, Facebook, and Twitter, consumers can quickly find out information and discuss it among their friends and followers – if a brand isn’t being truthful they will quickly be found out.
Be open.
Embrace what your consumers say good or bad, and respond. If a brand is open with consumers you can build a more meaningful relationship with your core audience.
Be interesting.
There is so much traffic now being thrown at consumers online you have to be interesting to make things stick, if you want consumers to click that "like" button give them a reason. Reward them with additional content or benefits, not just more sales messaging.

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