smith+co on
customer experience
Alex Wilmott
  • By Alex Wilmott
  • Nov 04 2015

Why so many brands fail at social media

There seems to be a fear of ‘missing out’ that bypasses the most important question for brands considering social media - 'how is our presence on this platform going to benefit our customers?'

I’ve been privileged to manage social media teams for leading brands during the last five years. And being so close to the evolution of digital communication, there were rarely two days alike. But one of the recurring negatives I saw within both the private and public sectors, was the ever so predictable attitude that still surrounds social media.

A member of the brand leadership team would schedule a meeting with the digital team to discuss a new social media platform; and my heart would sink like lead in a lake. The meeting would usually go something like this:

Boss: “I’ve seen our competitors are using a new social media platform called Instagram. Why aren’t we using it?”

Me:Yes. And they’re using it very well. I did send you a full overview of platforms we’re not currently on, in which I covered Instagram. In my opinion as the social media manager, the last thing we should do now is launch a branded Instagram page. It’s an image-led platform and we don’t have images good enough for sharing. Coupled with this, there are lots of unwanted images being taken of our services by some of our unhappy customers, and it might seem hypocritical if we go cool-image crazy at this time.”

Boss: “I understand that, but I’d like to tell the board we’re keeping up with the pace of the digital world. Could you set up a branded account this month?”

Me: “Yes, a teenager who doesn’t know the capital city of his own country could set up an Instagram account in a month. However, I’ve just explained why we aren’t ready for that platform yet”.

Boss: “Great, I look forward to you explaining the new platform at our next reporting meeting”.

Me: “Is there any point in me being here?”

Boss: “Of course! We need you to set up our new Instagram page!”

There seems to be a fear of ‘missing out’ that bypasses the most important question for brands considering social media - How is our presence on this platform going to benefit our customers?

Alison Battisby, founder of Avocado Social and associate consultant at Smith+Co, advises brands to ensure they have the essentials before they start out on a platform like Instagram. She says:

“As with all social media channels, you must consider how it will improve the overall customer experience, how it aligns to your brand, and how it will help to differentiate you”

Alison’s advice is that you should be aiming to post at least every other day, but the most successful accounts are posting twice daily. She advises working through the following questions before you commit:-

  • Is it right for your business?
  • What’s your purpose for using it?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the nature of the photos/content you can share?
  • Do you have enough photos/content?

One of the strategies that led some brands down a one-way road, was to approach each social media platform with the same perspective - one size fits all. But the brands that have broken away from this approach have found themselves leading the digital race to deliver a better customer experience.

The team at Burberry have been pioneering new ways of engaging customers by treating each platform uniquely. The brand uses Facebook for live streaming, to give fans a sense of exclusive access. They post sophisticated and behind-the-scenes visuals on their Instagram page and keep their conversational interactions for their Twitter crowd. Burberry drew up separate plans for each platform and continue to do so.

The harsh reality of the digital evolution means that social media will always throw up a new shiny thing that makes your competitors look cool. But the reality is, they didn’t just start an account and blag their way to a million followers.

Like any good marketing campaign, there needs to be some very honest and hard-hitting discussions around your brand purpose and identity before you hit ‘go’.