Social Media & Brand Interaction

by Michael Hubbard on October 22, 2009

in Media

A recent study shows that 78% of new media users interact with companies or brands…  95% of those users expect companies to be in the social media space.  My question is more along the lines of what do users consider “interaction”.  I took the dive into twitter about a year ago, and I can honestly say that I very rarely interact with brands because I don’t ever get responses.  Now, I understand that if I post a question to my followers that they might not respond as I’m caught in a river of other news, or it’s not relevant to them, or I’m just not that interesting…  But if I post a direct question to a person or a brand, and you claim to be doing social media, and you’re not Ashton Kutcher or someone that gets a million questions a day, then I think “interacting” with social media users needs to include actually answering the questions that are posed directly to you.  What do you think?  Below are some examples – and I’m leaving off my request I made to @southwestair for a bump from the B section to the A section in fairness to ridiculous requests.

If you’re @CMO_Com would you have answered this question, or should you disclose that your twitter account is nothing more than a front for auto-posting your content?

socialmedia-cmoThis one’s a little more straight forward – so who knows, maybe they thought it was a trick question, but it too was left unanswered.

socialmedia---csrwireOf course, there are people out there like Guy Kawasaki and Brian Morrissey that have more than a few followers with agendas, yet they take the time to reply openly to comments – or fire off a direct message for a more “intimate approach”.

socialmedia-bmorsocialmedia-guy

So what defines interaction between a brand to you?  Not to put Jim Tobin on the virtual spot, but his tweet this morning is what inspired me…  And yes, Jim – I did throw a softball up for you to hit out of the park with this RT:

socialmedia-jtob

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan Siem October 22, 2009 at 3:40 pm

What defines interaction between myself and a brand? Well, interaction, duh. But I guess that’s not as obvious as I’d hope. Many brands think that because they’re on social media, they’re interacting. Not true. To me, we’re interacting if we’re speaking to each other. One-way conversations miss that target. If a brand is speaking at me, it’s just the same old PR they’ve been pumping out for years…even if it IS on twitter. The brands that stand out to me and gain my respect are truly interacting: I say something, they say something back and so on. Not to be too sarcastic, but…just like real conversation.

To agree with you, @GuyKawasaki is a great example of someone with waaaaay too many followers to keep up with, but who manages to do it somehow. I’ve gotten response from him before, too.

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John Tarsi October 22, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I think just like anything else, its going to take time before big brands/companies figure out how to fit new media into their internal processes, procedures, tracking systems, etc. They’re probably thinking “if we’re on twitter, can we even respond to all these jokers?” For example, if consumers start using Twitter to contact a company like Southwest for customer service issues, like “can I upgrade my ticket”, etc…then they are going to have to figure out: 1- can and how do we even use something like twitter for customer service? 2- if so, how do we track all correspondence with customers for quality assurance? 3 – can we even handle a flood of customer “comments” all day every day? And I’m sure there are many more questions that would need to be answered. But I don’t think companies that haven’t adopted social media 100% are doing anything wrong…its just taking them time to figure out if its viable option for their business and how to enfold it into their corporate structure. If I were a big brand, I would probably still want people to come to my site and us that way as opposed to manually reading and sifting through thousands of 120-character posts on twitter.

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David Dekker Dave October 22, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I agree with John on the fact that large companies are trying to figure out the best way to utilize twitter and all the other free services on the web. Right now it seems like very few large companies would hire several people to run their social spaces as a full or part-time job. I am sure that will turn around at some point. Until then I will expect no-reply from the auto tweeters ;)

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Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard October 23, 2009 at 9:06 am

In response to Morgan, the way Guy is able to do it is he has some ghost writers helping out :) . That being said, I know some people are against that as well – but I say, as long as you’re transparent about it like he is, then who cares. He has managed to turn himself into a brand on his own.

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Jon Kenney October 23, 2009 at 9:48 am

How a brand interacts with its customers should be looked at as unique to that brand. A brand should carefully consider what conversations need to be had, where to have them and what should be said. Social media has been a ground breaking medium to bring brands and their customers even closer, if its done right of course. In the case of Twitter, I’m taking the position of John Tarsi, it’s going to take time to figure out how that plays into a brands social media scheme, and even if it should. Twitter is filled with noise, and can major brands really deal with customer service issues in 140 characters or less?

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