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‘Social strategy’; how many times have you heard that cliché?

In many situations it is a confusing buzzword to help agencies generate new business. However, there are instances where a wider strategy for social media is needed.

I would like to share with you a few examples of brands that clearly lack it, to help you avoid similar pitfalls...

Sony

When I was growing up, Sony was the electronics brand. The daring approach to innovation and design was ground-breaking, and it thoroughly deserved its strong reputation.  

I can remember the feeling of utter jealousy as my brother unwrapped a glistening Sony MiniDisc player on Christmas morning. But oh, how the mighty can fall! Still charging premium prices, the innovation that Sony once showed has virtually disappeared.

The likes of Samsung and LG have shown that high quality electronics can be produced at lower prices and their focus on making homes smarter with ‘device integration’ only serves to support their brands becoming more purchaser’s first choice.

With almost 4m Facebook fans, Sony has an opportunity to commence an entire repositioning strategy and so rebuild their reputation. But the company has got it completely wrong…

Tone of voice & language

When any profile says “Happy Friday” I shiver to the bone. If this is the most creative a brand can be online, then what hope is there of developing remarkable products and creating great customer experiences?

As David Moth pointed out recently when looking into Sony's social strategy:

The main corporate account is updated on a daily basis, but to be honest the content is quite dull. It’s extremely product-focused and self-promotional, including clips of the company’s new ads, gift ideas, galleries of new products and photos of popstars signed to the Sony record label.

As a result the number of fan interactions is quite low at just a few thousand per update on average, which is a great deal lower than many other global brands.

Poor repurposed content

It irritates me that brands think it is okay to cut corners when it comes to social media content.

Stealing low resolution and/or misshaped imagery from other sources does not suggest quality. This cheap tactic is not limited to Sony, I have also seen it present on social profiles of some of the finest luxury brands.

H.Samuel

Okay, so H.Samuel may not be the most luxury brand on the planet, but it supplies key goods for some of the most special events that people will experience in their entire lives, their weddings.

Any business in this market should be reaping significant benefits as people are captivated by the emotions associated with their rings and other jewellery products.  But, most are not.

Understand your product ecosystem

Imagery is vital for this industry. Inspiring and aspirational visuals should be flowing through the veins of H.Samuel’s profiles, but instead it relies on highly pixelated products on white backgrounds.

The tired product images give the impression of cheap imported goods rather than a treasured item for that big occasion.

Sale and Offers are not helping

Spattering ‘sale’ event creative only adds to the apparent cheapness of the profiles, in the long-run it will have a negative effect on ROI for a brand in this industry.

Only integrate if you are ready

The lack of digital strategy is made clear by its feeble attempts to drive ROI from social. Links to product with tracked URLS (up to four lines long!) cover the page.

To my distress, as I click on one of the soulless links, I am dropped on a website which is even less inspirational. The site doesn't match such a high ticket product:

Many people wonder why the high street is failing, often typically thinking it is experiencing a natural death.  But, the real problem is that people are failing to feed it.  It is slowly being starved. 

Old Spice

In the last few years Old Spice has been praised for its marketing efforts, recreating the brand via brilliant offline media.

The use of Isaiah Mustafa as “the man your man could smell like” has catapulted the brand, but now it appears to be running out of ideas…

Don’t rush Photoshop jobs

Old Spice

Adobe Creative Suite is fantastic for creating quick and impactful content to distribute. However, Old Spice UK has obviously taken the approach of product quantity, not quality.

This is a shame because the production value of the television commercial was excellent and it has not translated well to online media.

Facebook does not replace the need for a website

Old Spice UK has no website, simply a redirect to its Facebook page from oldspice.co.uk. A few years ago I joined a conference about whether Facebook will make traditional domains obsolete, and the outcome was an expected “no”.

The engaging functionality and customisable opportunities of a good website will not be replaced in the next few years and Old Spice is missing out.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry has had a tricky few years. It was once the leader in its market (the professional class), but it lost its way when it tried to satisfy a wider market and now struggles to please anyone.

The 2013 launch of the Z10 was meant to be the turning point. Offline creative was strong; initial reviews were positive; but, when Blackberry turned to social media to amplify the early success, it all went wrong.

Don’t go promoting competitor products

Apple fans are immovable objects, they will defend their precious possessions at all costs. Unfortunately, BlackBerry didn’t consider this when it invested in Facebook advertising to promote the launch of the new phone.

A quick calculation suggests that, potentially, the news feed advert could have reached more than 20m people during the campaign.  But it is not great if almost all of the comments are either critical of your product, the brand, or are recommending competitors.

Your audience cares about more than your product and brand

If you need to talk about yourself a lot, it is probably because no one else wants to. Almost every post is about a product or service that Blackberry offers and, in the long-run, it will hurt the brand.

This approach can work if you have the right product range and diverse content to warrant it.  But BlackBerry simply doesn’t.

As a result, their 28 million strong Facebook page achieves minimal engagement and it is only underlining most people’s belief that BlackBerry is no longer a leading mobile manufacturer. 

The Future and Apple 

Despite this positive sounding title, I am no Apple fan! I am simply impressed and amazed by Apple’s determination to avoid following the trends of social media. 

Most marketing professionals will bang on about how you need to be on social media.  But Apple provides the perfect example of why this just isn’t true. Saying this, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t think Apple is active on the platforms.

Ultimately, what is the long term strategy of a social media profile?

For how many months or years can a brand produce content before appearing repetitive, unoriginal and embarrassing?

Edwyn Raine

Published 12 July, 2013 by Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine is Digital Strategist at Evolution 7 and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow Edwyn on Twitter

8 more posts from this author

Comments (45)

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Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing

I completely agree that social can't replace your website; it should augment it.The thing I always tell site owners is that you own your website and you're just renting your social profiles. At the end of the day someone else has the ultimate control over your brand's online presence.

about 3 years ago

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Poker Face

Good read!! Thoroughly enjoyed it :) !

about 3 years ago

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Tariq Ahmed

Great blog and i agree with what you are saying. Social is such a wonderful marketing avenue which you see used poorly! I don't think its just commerce brands who are struggling, I think BBC Sport compared to ESPN US on Facebook is a great example!

So little interaction on the BBC Sport Facebook page where as ESPN US talks in ways which will captivate the audience a lot more daring, funny and content which gets people wanting to comment or share or like.

Look forward to reading more from this author!

about 3 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

You should check out the NSA page and Monsanto page :-)

The whole suggested post thing is hilarious. I get ads for Macdonals, Chevron, Shell - brands least liked by me. The reason I get these ads is because usually there is one idiot of my 1,000 friends that likes one of these pages. Reading the comments though a hilarious. Usually 99% negative on these big corporate brands suggested posts. Why do they bother? The whole point of digital marketing is to micro target. Pumping Macdonald's ads to vegetarians is completely pointless.

about 3 years ago

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John

A very good read! Some shrewd comments there and thought-provoking too!
Let's have more!

about 3 years ago

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Pawan

I agree with you. I never remember that I've liked any Sony or BB updates of their FB page. But at least Sony other marketing strategies are going well. God save BB! :(

about 3 years ago

Gemma Holloway

Gemma Holloway, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

It is a shame when large brands like this fall into the traps of being boring and self promotional all of the time. In the past I have found this tends to be down to one of two things:

1. The company doesn't see social media as an effective investment and therefore they employs someone inexperienced to do it. For example, a university student or an administrative assistant, neither of which has the knowledge and skills needed to devise an effective strategy.

2. The final sign off comes from someone higher up - Usually someone nothing to do with marketing. For example, product based updates must be signed off by an engineer. Again the engineer will not understand the importance of creativity in social media and often feels the need for things to be factually correct and informational - Not creative and engaging.

Both of these frequently lead to the type of social media activity detailed above.

As for the Old Spice Photoshop incident, this is just disappointing. It would have taken as much effort to use a tennis ball as it did a basketball. It's just sloppy and lazy.

about 3 years ago

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback all. If you have any specific questions or other insights I would love to hear them! Ed

about 3 years ago

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Vicky Stewardson, Implementation Specialist at Axonn media ltd

Hi Edwyn,

This is a really interesting post, and I certainly agree with the evident lack of content causing difficulties for the social tactics employed by these brands.

It strikes me that this post is great at identifying the traps that these brands have fallen into, but I'd be interested to know what your suggestions are for each brand to do to rectify the issue. You touch upon this with the Sony example, in terms of repositioning and reputation building strategy, but I'd love to know what you'd actually advise they do to achieve this.

Thanks,
Vicky

about 3 years ago

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

Hi Vicky, thanks for your comment.

This is something I did consider when I was drafting out the piece and would be happy to share some of my thoughts.

Naturally it is always going to be difficult with a brand like Sony which pools such a wide range of products. The content needs of a Playstation user are likely to differ extensively from someone who is serious about photography or filmography. It is obviously too late to change this, but I think this is one of the fundamental reasons Apple stayed away from social profiles.

As a bare minimum they should be working hard to avoid pixelated images and ensuring there is a consistency in tone, language and creative.
However, to really overcome these issues I think these brands should be thinking less about the day to day management and more about longevity. These brands don't need to post "x" times a week as many believe, instead they should look to produce meaningful projects, experience and campaigns which generate more of a long term, emotional relationship.

Too many brands are cutting corners with social, believing it is a cheaper form of marketing, in reality they are just producing poorer quality marketing.

about 3 years ago

Luke Brason

Luke Brason, Head of User Experience at Grass Roots

Good article Edwyn - enjoyed reading it this morning. Couldn't help but smile when later on in the day some research took me to this site https://www.facebook.com/One4allUK where two recent posts wished me both a 'Happy Monday' and a 'Happy Friday' (albeit that these greetings appear to have been well received by their page followers).

about 3 years ago

Shoplet Promos

Shoplet Promos, Digital Marketing at Shoplet Promos

Thanks Edwyn!

You're definitely right, too many brands are cutting corners with social. It's a wide spread issue. Twitter/Facebook is so fast and easy + there's no extremely obvious reward that it leads to companies shrugging it off or not taking it too seriously.

A company like Sony doesn't realize that they are falling into worrying traps. Not taking any risks and simply promoting their product/sales is not what Sony is about - not sure why they feel like they can veer off their brand when using social media.

It's weird that so many companies are careless with their social media accounts when its something so easily found and connected with. Doesn't make too much sense to me.

Now that you mention it, that "happy _____" stuff is going to start making me cringe hahaha.

about 3 years ago

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Marco

Very good article...
Regarding Apple not actively present of Facebook, I think it's just be cause they don't need it:
fMRI technology studies have proven that Apple fans have a brand experience similar to a mystic/religious experience...
And they evangelize the brand to the world

about 3 years ago

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

Hi Marco, thanks for the comment.

You might enjoy reading my personal blog. I wrote a piece on what I believe Apple do with social media...

A lot of it is speculative, but I think everyone can agree that some of those strategies are highly like to be in operation.

http://soverysocial.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/why-apples-social-strategy-is-perfect.html

Cheers,

Ed

about 3 years ago

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Marco

Hi Edwyn
nice article :-)

Not saying they are not active on social media, but that they don't have/need to be physically present on it

I think Apple is using social in a very smart way:
They don't post directly, but through all the leaking info and "lost and found" new iProducts they drive the conversation. They master the buzz...

I think as well they are listening carefully what it's said outside about them and their products with one of the many "social media listening tools" and taking then the actions needed...

Ciao
Marco

about 3 years ago

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Anon

Have a look at Qatar Airways on Facebook even. Ridiculous. Looks as if run by a teenager

about 3 years ago

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Christopher

Gotcha! Ciao, i am as well a fan of Apple, thus you are right Edwin. I trust your article it's well stated there. Keep going and sharing. cheers! :)

about 3 years ago

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

Absolutely Marco, their brand is build around social advocacy and their products are status symbols, so there is really no need for them to tell people how good they think their products are.
You can see this in demonstration on television adverts and their websites which whisper "quality" rather than shout "buy me".

about 3 years ago

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Laura

Great article Ed. Completely agree, too many companies fail to align their offline strategy, website and social media presence. And even more fail to use social media in the correct use, instead use it as a channel to push offers and post repetitive, un-engaging posts that no-one wants to see on social media.

I am amazed how Apple still haven't entered the social media world and I wouldn't have thought they ever will now! Just shows how a brand can be successful through creating innovative products that are a 'must-have' for many people (myself included!)

about 3 years ago

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

Great comment Laura. Couldn't agree more with everything you said.

about 3 years ago

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Paul Norris

Great piece Ed!

Completely agree on the shoddy Photoshop jobs - it cheapens the brand considerably and compels the user to hit the "unlike" button.

about 3 years ago

Bridget Randolph

Bridget Randolph, Online Marketing Consultant at Distilled

Love this article, Edwyn. I'm especially interested in how arts/culture brands run social media, many of which are run on a shoestring, but it's always telling to see big brands making similar mistakes.

Enjoyed your other article as well, and definitely agree. Apple also don't have a mobile-friendly site, which again seems counter-intuitive (almost ironic given that this represents such a large percentage of the products they produce) but I would speculate that it's because they've determined that don't need to, rather than laziness or ignorance. But I'd love to know the reasoning behind that decision!

about 3 years ago

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Sandy Sunny, CEO at AngelHart Marketing Services LLC.

I completely agree with you, I am one of the 5 million fans Sony's official page has garnered. It is completely self-promotional with no interesting content.

about 3 years ago

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Asad Shah, CEo at asdasd

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almost 3 years ago

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Thank for the article E.D
Regards
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over 2 years ago

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Nelson Bar, Engineer at PrelDH

I think we should consider the social evolution of others (for example our competitors) and continue to deliver services in the right manner. No need to follow others in the right way. Apple has his roadmap and with or without social Media they will achieve that.
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over 2 years ago

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over 2 years ago

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over 2 years ago

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over 2 years ago

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