Brands need to adopt transparent strategy to succeed in social media

MUMBAI: Not all brands need to use social media in their communication strategy. However, those that do, should adopt a transparent strategy so that there is trust built among users. They should also open up to influence and forget about the myths of control.

These were some of the points made at a MasterClass session at the World Brand Congress on social media.

The session was chaired by BigAdda COO Shivanandan Pare. The speakers were Simplifying founder and CEO Shashank Nigam, Grapefruit chief creative officer Marius Ursache, AgencyNet VP consumer and brand strategies Alex Morrison and Digital Media CEO Ishwar Jha.

Ursache spoke about building social branding through engagement. He noted that not all brands need social media to build their communication strategy.

"However, many big companies waste time and resources on it without clearly defining the objectives that they are looking at achieving through their communication strategy. Also if a company?s core competence is in communicating through television commercials then it might be better to stick to it rather than doing a bad job on Twitter."
He said that there are different strategies that companies use. One of the most effective involves opening up to influence. He gave the example of what Dell did with Ideastorm.

The company launched a site and asked consumers what they want to see changed in the company. The company got 12,000 ideas and implemented 400. ?The outcome is high if you know how to internalise feedback.?

He also noted that ideally a company should become embodied when users become advocates for it. A good example is Apple and that is due to the strength of the product. 
He urged companies to have a dedicated team that focusses on social media. He also warned that a company?s official communication does not mean engagement. The company has to lose the illusion of control in communication.

Nigam also made a point on the importance of companies not obsessing over control in communications. ?While there are PR guidelines, the companies should focus more on how they can influence people?s opinions. People would rather trust a blog than a corporate site as the blog has a face to it. A large corporation on the other hand is faceless. It is key that the face of the brand comes out during communication in social media.?
Morrison said that in a digital world, people explore what they are passionate about. Brands have to find a way to intersect in their lives. Companies need to understand the different things that happen in a digital world that leads to people interacting with brands. The good news is that many brands like Coca Cola already stand for something. The next step is to see how they can add value to consumer?s lives and start the engagement process. Brands could align with consumers passions including music, nightlife, social culture, environment. He says that Zappos, Redbull and Nike are among the companies that do this really well. 

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