Are you using social media … or misusing it?

It is good to see that majority of brands, today, have woken up to the importance of social media for publicity and promotions in a marketing context. Social media is better understood now and has become a necessary tool for businesses across the industries. It will not be wrong to say that social media presence is now recognised as essential in building a new brand as well as in maintaining established brands.

What is unfortunate is that a lot of the corporate houses do not understand the correct usage of social media. Many brands view social media primarily as a means to market their products and services to followers. What they do not realise is that this approach is not very effective, and in fact may prove to be detrimental to a brand’s image. Social media must not only be used for posting advertisements and promotions else this may result in the loss of credibility. What seems to make sense is not to use social media primarily as a product-marketing tool, but  as a public relations tool.

It is a known fact that businesses are scrambling to modernise their marketing efforts to reach the millennial generation for which the most advocated means has been social media. Social media is in fact one of the best ways to reach Millennials. Having said that, many corporate houses/brands are still uncertain of the correct usage of this tool effectively to meet their objective.

Millennials have grown up in an environment where they are able to constantly connect with others, share their thoughts and sentiments with the world, and receive any information they want in a matter of seconds. Social media, in its essence, is a means to accomplish all these things. Social media is used to connect with people and relevant brands, to share thoughts and feelings about relevant topics, which can include brands, and to access interesting and useful information, which a brand can provide. Hence, it is advisable that brands use social media with the goal of connecting and conversing with their target audience, listening to and monitoring their thoughts and sentiments, and sharing useful, entertaining, and interesting content.

While developing a social media strategy, brands must keep in mind that their audience does not want to be over-marketed to or over publicised. A brand’s social media feed should consist of a blend and assimilation of original brand content, which should include useful and relevant information, carefully curated content from industry thought-leaders, and a generous amount of promotional content. By following these guidelines, brands/corporate houses should be able to avoid the pitfall of over-marketing themselves to audiences. Furthermore, this rule encourages brands to provide their followers with useful content in order to establish themselves as credible and trustworthy thought-leaders within their respective industries, which is highly valued by Millennials.

So in a nutshell, social media is not all that tricky. As long as corporate houses/brands make an effort to understand the appropriate function of social media in a marketing context, it can be a very useful tool for building a brand. When it comes to using social media for marketing purposes, try to put yourself in the shoes of your consumers. If you want to reach Millennials through social media, try to become part of the conversation. After all, if you have something interesting to say, people will listen.

The bottomline is to avoid overselling the brand, posting irrelevant content and going overboard with the social media posts. Remember, the mantra is the win the audience, not kill them.

Ritu Bararia
Ritu is a Communications leader turned into a Thought leader, Author, Adviser, Academic, Mentor, Public Relations Evangelist. Currently, Ritu is Senior Director- School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe), which is ranked as the topmost PR institutes in India. She has been acknowledged amongst 100 Top Women Power Leaders 2023. She is also the current National President for WICCI – PR & Digital Marketing council.

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