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Love it, hate it, or only use it to catch up with friends, social media is here to stay. Social media has grown up a lot since the days of Bebo and Myspace, and now includes a myriad of different apps and sites, from Snapchat to What’sApp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Instagram, Viber and Pinterest, they all claim to connect us together in ever more expanding ways.
From the perspective of business, Social Media is fast becoming an intrinsic and hugely important way to connect with potential customers, build up brand awareness and gain a better understanding of what the public want. Whilst Facebook in its early years did not include advertisements, it now hosts banner ads, Targeted advertising for specific demographics and even Sponsored posts that infiltrate people’s news feed in order to appear organic. What was initially a site for people to connect with friends, stay in touch and upload photos has transformed into a marketing strategy with massive potential.
Now an intrinsic part of every companies marketing strategy includes social media engagement. Every company is expected to have a Facebook profile with real engagement with the public, posting photos, news, updates and queries to encourage customers to give feedback. Not only does this engagement give the business a valuable insight into public opinion, but it also enables the public to voice their concerns, make complaints and suggest improvements, all the while raising brand awareness.
As with any kind of advertising, Social Media should be approached with caution. Any ill thought out ad campaign or potentially insulting status update can snowball out of control unimaginably fast. For example, several months ago a relatively small sign company, Hornet Signs in Waco, Texas began a controversial ad campaign. They plastered a (extremely realistic) stick-on image to the back of a pick-up truck. It depicted a woman bound and gagged lying on the floor of the pick-up truck.
Within days the image had gone viral, gaining international press coverage. The vast majority of the public were outraged by the image, with many women’s rights groups voicing their disgust. The Facebook site was bombarded with protests and complaints. https://www.facebook.com/HornetSigns?fref=ts
Hornet Signs had never gained so much media attention. The company handled it very well, donating a large sum of money to women’s charities and appeasing the hoard of outraged Facebookers by removing, burning and selling the remains of the sign on eBay, and posting updates and images of the process on Facebook.
Whilst this kind of publicity stunt could never be condoned, it must be said that it certainly put Hornet Signs on the map, and those of the persuasion that “any publicity is good publicity” could argue that they did a great job of getting their name out there. From the odd comment and “like” in previous months, Hornet signs now has huge engagement with the public; their last status update has 332 comments and counting.
Fashion Giant ASOS made the same mistake a few days ago by comparing Princess Diana to Rhianna. Whilst the aim was entirely innocent; Rhianna had claimed just days previously that she sees the Princess as her fashion inspiration, some fashion intern had managed to find numerous photos of the two wearing similar outfits, which ASOS encouraged people to vote “who wore it best?” ASOS should’ve understood that anything concerning the People’s Princess would touch a nerve with the British public, especially when comparing her to the USA’s latest controversial sex symbol.
So what conclusion are we to form from Hornet Signs and ASOS’s examples? Admittedly most people visit social media sights for quick entertainment, easy amusement and to catch up with friends. Any mediocre ad campaign will most likely go ignored and unnoticed in favour of the latest viral craze. With so much information constantly being shared, it can be difficult to get your business noticed. But is it worth risking your company’s reputation in an attempt to catch people’s attention with something amusing, horrifying or even offensive on social media?
Olivia Lazenby is a writer for www.jobsinmanchester.com where she blogs with news, tips and advice for job hunters in the local area.
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