Notworking on Social Networking: Why brands fail on social networks

According to the social media analysts socialbakers, only 5% of queries posted by consumers on social networks are answered by brands! Forget being proactive, most brands are not even reactive – they are absolutely ignorant of what’s out there on social. What then is the point of having a facebook page if you’re not going to respond anyway? While the numbers keep growing both globally, and here in the UAE and the region, it kind of seems pointless from a brand perspective if there is no dialog.
Telecoms and airlines seem to have the highest rates of response, while the automotive sector is the least ‘socially correct’. Only 2.5% of social media messages are ever answered by the wheeled heeled. Oh, and the media industry? Just 1% of queries are answered!
In the US, for example, social networks and blogs reach around 80% of active internet users. The US market’s brand-in-social metric is amazing. Around 55% of active adult social network users follow a brand. But are brands responding? In the UAE, there are 2.62 million facebook users. Where are the brands?
Agencies that work with brands are also to blame on this for not showing the way. While the agency scenario is rapidly changing, a lot of the large ‘do-it-all’ ‘through-the-line’ agencies haven’t warmed up to the social trends yet – leaving their brands in the dark and the silent.
At Innovations_Digital, we call this amazing pall of silence and lack of response the ‘whisper mode’. And, this is difficult to understand. Clearly, the numbers are showing where the wind is blowing, but brands don’t have any idea on how to play with the wind. This amazing consumer channel – with its instant feedback, it’s open source field of consumer action and reaction is being ignored. Imagine, the sheer ignorance or arrogance of a brand like British Airways – who started their facebook interface with a wall closed to posts (now you can, though, they’ve learnt quickly).
Social media has both a long tail and a short response time lag. Things happen in the instant. Brands should not sit back and wait to respond – because word about the brand (specially negative) spreads rapidly in the here and now. And brands who shut down communications or delete negative posts when they happen are committing social suicide.
The whole point of being in the social media space is to be social. And being social means to engage in dialog – brands need to realize that it’s not another billboard or newspaper ad. Brands need to remember to be ‘socially correct’ – too many posts, too frequent tweets are also not done – that’s shouting. But to not respond, to wish it away, to hope for the best is just playing ostrich and sand. And that’s dumb. That’s why brands fail in social networking.