Thursday, 10 July 2014

Can we really ask consumers to trust social media marketing?

A recent study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing has found that as few as 1 in 5 consumers trust social media marketing, and more than half of those surveyed felt there should be tighter regulations on advertising across social media platforms.
As a business which handles social media for a range of clients, we too feel the effects of consumer distrust, and the paramount importance of using verifiable sources and facts when promoting or recommending a product online.
But why the lack of trust?  An unscrupulous few take advantage of the freedom of online marketing by advertising falsely or misleadingly in a forum where there are little or no rules about fair marketing practice. The joy of the internet in terms of consumer safety is that you can share your experiences and read the reviews of other shoppers – however, increasingly reviews are appearing which are blatantly fabricated in order to mislead the consumer, which devalues the entire process.
The techniques consumers found most unethical were the creation of fake accounts for the purpose of leaving positive reviews for your own company, and employing tactics to hide negative online content. The latter can be achieved by simply burying a negative news story or review by bombarding the host site with spam or fabricated reviews until the bad news is safely hidden.
This is an inevitable problem considering the popularity of sites such as Trip Advisor, but it presents a problem for ethical business owners, and us their PR people, – how can I demonstrate the honesty of my, or my client’s, online presence?
For us, it comes down to being direct. If a client gets a negative reaction online then we work with the client to address it, rather than attempting to bury it or avoiding it entirely. From our perspective, everything is an opportunity to showcase brand value – a criticism of your business may be frustrating, but it gives you the chance to demonstrate your maturity and character as a brand.
If you would like some support to help manage your online presence,  give us a call on 01384 878777

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