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Digital Marketers: A Call To Advocacy

You’ve seen it before, the head-shaker. The comment left in social media that makes you roll your eyes and mutter “FFS!” under your breath.

It’s usually either blatantly wrong, unfair or just plain moronic. Either way, there just isn’t anything you can do about it.

As a representative of the brand you know you can’t retaliate, you can’t appear defensive and you can’t tell them where to stick their custom if they’re not happy with your perfectly reasonable offering. It won’t reflect well on your brand and you have no desire to be lampooned as the next brand #socialFAIL.

So you bite your tongue, cast a few colourful expletives into the wind and try to move on.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. There is another way.

Give a little love

Did you ever see the Kevin Spacey film ‘Pay It Forward‘, released in 2000? The film centres around a boy doing a social experiment to make the world a better place. Rather than repay favours he pays a favour forward to three other people. They do the same in turn. And thus the good deed spreads.

Okay, think that, but with less sugar coating.

My idea is for digital marketers to unite to defend their league. To say the things to your comrade’s customer that cannot easily be said. To defend other brands in their moments of need.

We see this advocacy from consumers, from fans of brands. A sour comment gets quickly countered by a handful of positive reviews. Sadly, not every brand has the devotion of fans of Cadbury’s, Innocent Smoothies or Apple and those that do engage in conversation and debate are few and far between.

This is where we must pay it forward. To defend our brethren in the hope that one day they will defend us.

This is no chaotic, mob mentality. There are rules to this uprising. It’s not about being abusive to a brand’s consumers or customers. It’s about pushing back with reasoned arguments, with logic. It needs to be sincere. You need to have a connection or emotional investment in the brand you’re defending. Otherwise, it’s fake and counter to the spirit of advocacy.

So each and every digital marketer needs to take the following vow:

I will defend the brands I love with reasoned, well constructed debate and I will do so with a smile on my face and a glint in my eye.

Fight with logic

The genesis of this idea came from a recent personal experience. A local independent cinema, fighting to stay alive in today’s competitive entertainment market, had generated considerable community support through a number of initiatives, including a Saturday Kids Club showing old films for a £1 admission. Recently it announced on it’s Facebook page that the Kids Club would be taking a break until the Autumn to enable them to fit in the considerable array of major Summer releases.

All hell broke loose in the comment section.

From my perspective, the business decision was evident. A small, financially strapped company has an opportunity to generate much needed revenue by increasing the number of showings of popular new summer blockbusters. To do so they need to pause – not stop – the low revenue discounted showings. By increasing revenue in the Summer it increases the likelihood of the business being able to continue to operate in the long term and provide year round good value entertainment. I should add that the standard ticket prices at this particular cinema are £2.50 off peak and £3.50 at peak times. It’s not like they switched to the £9.30 ticket prices of the Cineworld down the road.

After 10 negative comments ripping the independent cinema, defended so vociferously by the community in previous months, I’d had enough. I should add I have an emotional investment in this old fleapit – it was the cinema of my childhood. The place where I began my love of film.

I said the things that perhaps could not be said by the staff. I pointed out the business need, the need to generate revenue to enable the long term survival of the cinema and to enable them to continue the fantastic pricing on offer. In essence, I told them to calm down, stop complaining and start supporting.

Within hours there were more Likes on my comment than negative posters and even a few supportive comments posted from other customers. The Cinema never responded to the post, they didn’t need to.

Call to arms

So, my fellow marketers it’s time for action. We need to step forward when our comrades cannot. We need to defend the brands we love from the irrational, from the over-empowered, from the individual who wants something for nothing but with a premium service. We have to stand tall. We will put the customer at the heart of our business and look for long term win-win solutions but we will not stand for your crap.

Let’s do this! Who’s with me?

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