Did you see what Gatorade is up to?
Mission control? Perhaps this is a poor choice of words. I realize they are trying to invoke a command center feel akin to NASA.
But – Houston, we have a problem.
There is no control in social media. There is listening. There is engaging. There is responding and adapting. But there is no control of what is being said about a brand when it comes to social media.
The truth is that brands never really controlled their images. Sure, they spent millions of dollars on market research to know what their target consumers wanted and then did their level best to deliver on those expectations. They produced slick and persuasive media campaigns to sway our opinions about them. To a certain extent – it worked.
However, prior to social media the feedback loop was a one-way feed. To the extent there was any interaction between consumer and brand it usually took place at the cash register. Complaints or concerned were aired in private. Kudos were measured is sales figures. This is an oversimplification but the point is that brands talked to (or at) us but didn’t hear what we had to say.
Social media has changed all that. Have an issue or concern with a brand or service? Love what they do or stand for?
Post is on their Facebook page. Post it on your Facebook page. Tweet it. Write a review on Yelp. Make a comment on foursquare. Blog it.
The whole world is potentially watching and listening.
And the brands have to respond. Even if they choose to ignore a flaming post they have to be aware of the conversation. Even if the negative commentary represents a tiny fraction of the overall audience – the brand cannot ignore the issue.
The size of the complaint is immaterial. The fact that there is a potential negative stain on the brand is all that matters. It must be handled with as much transparency and honesty as possible.
Social Media has changed the paradigm. The consumers control the conversation. Well… if we don’t exactly control the conversation we are now a much more active participant than ever before.
That will not change. Once we get control we tend not to give it back. (Think about your DVR. Do you want to go back to the days when you had to depend on your VCR or – gaak – had to watch TV in real time?).
To Gatorade’s credit – they get it. It may come across as a little ‘big brother’ creepy but they are paying attention to how their brand is evolving.
Clearly, they have the resources to man and monitor all avenues of social media. That gives them a competitive advantage – or, puts them in the lead grouping of social media users.
I’ve said it before – the big brands are feeling their way through social media just like the rest of us. They have the resources to succeed (or fail) on a spectacular level. That advances the knowledge curve for all of us.
I do know that Gatorade’s taking social media seriously and using it as a tool for brand enhancement. That’s a good thing – for all of us involved in social media marketing.
Oh, and to the gang at Mission Control in Chicago.
Social Media Specialist