Friday, 11 July 2008

How should brands talk to social network users?

For brands thinking of using social networks it is often talked about having to consider their audience as when planning any marketing communication activity. The buzz phrase of advice seems to be telling brands to 'talk to users in the right way'. Though no one has defined what this right way is. Granted it may be different for different segments or types of brands but I thought I would discuss the different possible ways of talking.

1. In a formal manner resembling a similar tone to their corporate website.
This seems to defeat the purpose of using these networks though they could use them to point people to their site via viral marketing though an advert would do the same thing.Appropriate for more formal services, to older less open users.

2. Informal, chatty style
Likely to create positive attitudes towards the brand and encourage dialogue.

3. Use it to promote competitions, discounts
Drives traffic to brands' websites and pages on social networks, creates interest in the brand,

4. Humourous banter in the style of youths' dialogue between friends
This is a risky strategy as it may either offend or lack credibility especially if their not seen as a youth brand. though if done well could create positive connotations and is likely to encourage a response.

Regardless of tone, timing needs to be an important factor. Brands need to develop a continuous dialogue with consumers and offer them something new otherwise they'll get bored and forget about them undoing any good relationships started. Though communicating too often with them may irritate users. As social networks are fairly personal spaces users may feel that brands are intruding causing negative associations with the brand. Ultimately brands should try and understand and categorise how willing they are to talk to brands and how accepting they are of advertising.

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