There has been a lot of hype surrounding social networking sites and their value to marketers. They were thought to revolutionise how brands interacted with their customers and increase engagement.
However, this theory relies firstly on brands being able to provide engaging content and a reason to not only take an initial interest in their brand but to interact with them on a regular basis to build some form of relationship. As I assume this was the initial thought to how marketers could use these networks; as a way of opening up two way dialogue with their customers and prospects.
But in order for this to happen brands surely need to encourage such communication and act on comments received by consumers or 'fans' of the brand as they are referred to as on facebook. At the minute users' comments either in independently formed groups or branded profiles go unacknowledged missing valuable opportunities to build rapport with them, reward them or at least make them feel valued.
Simply pushing out promotional information to them does not seem like a way of using the added benefits of these sites as an interactive media as opposed to an extension of their traditional campaign.
They should surely be using these sites to do something different, more risky, more personable and more on their audiences' level. Communicating as a 'friend'.
Though this inevitably brings up another set of issues; whether consumers are willing to accept brands as their friends or whether this is crossing the boundaries of the consumer/company relationship.
How much do consumers actually want to interact with brands anyway? Do they feel they have much to say or any motivation to say it. It is my view that they would be more willing to if the action had an incentive, either in terms of a monetary reward in the form of a discount or freebie or a more social form in keeping with the medium e.g. feeling valued by the brand or being able to use it as a type of social currency aka the cool factor of having a dialogue with a cool brand. this though would depend on the type of brand to a large extent.