In ye olde days, that was a given. But now, with social media and networking on the increase, the answer has changed.
Whilst you may spend hours carefully crafting your marketing messages and adverts, designing campaigns, implementing and monitoring your branding, your customers can take apart all of this within moments in the social networking sphere.
One example recently is Habitat, who have spent years and years building their brand, but all that hard work was potentially undone in moments when an intern decided to post for Habitat on Twitter. The actual posts wouldn’t have been such a major problem if it wasn’t for the Twittersphere leaping on the issue, and making it huge rather than just a minor glitch in Habitat’s social media marketing learning curve.
Whilst those posting in the Twittersphere may not have been actual customers of Habitat products, the impact on potential customers when considering the brand for a purchase could be long-lasting.
This is a case where the loss of ownership came from in-house, but in many instances, brands are losing ground to user generated content, reviews, forums and so on. Especially when anyone can set up a blog or Twitter channel in a matter of moments that can become home to consumer comments and complaints, become the de facto source for information, reviews etc on a particular brand, and take over search engine rankings for specific search terms quite easily.
Corporates and companies need to accept that marketing is not the game it was, and fit around the new consumer/prosumer model that is developing rapidly with social media and networking. Otherwise, we will see the same problems the music industry has had to learn to adapt to with music downloads. By burying their collective industry head in the sand, or by employing corporate lawyers to chase down the offenders, the problem actually escalated. Until one day, the music industry woke up and realised it had to change the way it worked, the age old business model and consumer control it had enjoyed no longer existed. It had been taken apart by the consumers and was actually threatening the revenues which the industry had so long taken for granted.
The same is true of brands, large and small, who are endeavouring to stick to the olde worlde model. Consumer control of your brand is inevitable and you need to accept that and develop strategies which fit the new model.
The problem is neatly summed up in this short video: