Brands, relationships and social capital

30 Aug

Today's Observer column by John Naughton contrasts the impatience of the market for immediate returns with the need for a long-term approach to social media engagement. He quotes blogger Michael Foley saying: 

"There are a lot of big brands dedicating resources to social media lately, because it is the new 'bright shiny thing'. I'm worried that these big brands may feel the need to shut down these social media business experiments if they don't see results – meaning big revenue – in time for the next quarterly earnings report.

"It takes time to build relationships and develop trust, especially if you've been neglecting your customers for a long time – and most brands have. They're already suspicious of you because you're selling something. Real relationships aren't built on the salesman's need to move product on deadline. They are built on a mutual exchange of value over time. Don't think of your social media presence as an experiment, but as an investment so that you can obtain social capital in the long term."

3 Responses to “Brands, relationships and social capital”

  1. simoncollister 01/09/2009 at 2:42 pm #

    I was thinking about the implications of this just the other day. Is it right to sign up clients that clearly are focused on social media sales, short-term investments and an unwillingness to change the way they work towards building trust over time?
    Tricky question – or perhaps not depending on your goals!

  2. Richard Bailey 01/09/2009 at 3:00 pm #

    It’s not a new problem, of course.
    Clients have often assumed that the media is there to help them sell products, and PR consultants in competitive pursuit of fees are not likely to advise them against this assumption.
    Yet short-term headlines (ie stunts) can damage long-term relationships.
    It’s the same with social media, though with one difference. Journalists are expert in resisting over-promotional PR, but people using social media do not have the trained antennae of a journalist.
    Sell now, or store up social capital for the future? Sales & mareting, or public relations? There was always pressure to go for the quick sale, and this will be intensified in a recession.

  3. YAZMIN 14/09/2009 at 1:30 am #

    I actually agree with this part of Foley’s quote:
    “Don’t think of your social media presence as an experiment, but as an investment so that you can obtain social capital in the long-term.”
    I agree with this because I think that this is one of the PR practicioner’s challenges nowadays.
    In my experience, in one of my placements I suggested the use of social media in order to enhance the relationship that this organisation had with its audience. In fact, I also remember myself saying that this was an “investment”, rather than stating that meant a quick boost on their tickets sales.
    I have to say that this was very well embraced by one part ot the management team. However, there was still some reticence in another part, in terms of how feasible this was to give a “quick-return”(££.)
    Thanks for the post.

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