Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Is social media really a worthy marketing tool?

No one would deny that social media is the major marketing buzzword nowadays. And it’s definitely going to generate buzz for a while. Nearly all companies are already on the way to become even more digital and “social”. It seems so exciting we can achieve cost effective direct collaboration and communication with a customer that was never achievable before.

But the question is whether social media, like many other innovations before it, is good or evil. While we are getting more social with our marketing, the risks involved with reputation management should not be underestimated. Only one online post by a dissatisfied customer or unhappy employee may profoundly affect a brand or company’s reputation. One can recall McDonald’s ‘social’ failure when an online campaign was hijacked by consumer’s complaints, along with many other examples of social media disasters.

Recent research from The Chartered Institute of Marketing discloses that only 44% of conducted firms not only identify the possible reputational issues but also have already applied guidelines and polices to regulate their presence in social space. 60% of those surveyed companies introduced such policies only in 2011-2012.


As marketers we all want to generate attention for our brands. And social media brings enormous opportunities for this. Every single post may be a great channel for storytelling and engaging with customers. But we also need to keep in mind the risks related to social media. You can never really estimate what trends will catch on, how people will react, or predict the success of social media endeavors. It is all about how you estimate the risks you take.

Elena Sveshnikova
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School


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