In the same year that Kodak went bankrupt, Instagram was acquired for millions of dollars by Facebook – both companies were in the photography space but the former had failed to adapt to the digital world. Airbnb is occupying more room nights now than the Hilton chain of hotels. These examples indicate a world where technology has successfully changed the way people live, do business, communicate and connect.
“Keeping up with consumers since digital has changed the fundamentals of living, working and playing is both a challenge and opportunity but the only way to harness the opportunity is by utilising insights,” said Anand Tilak, Head of Facebook Indonesia.
If insights is the starting point, access to granular levels of data has enabled deeper understanding of the consumer, allowed to create precise and targeted campaigns, create engaging creative and most importantly bring predictive analytics for marketing efforts.
“The question we should ask ourselves is whether we are really in touch with consumers. Are we adopting digital marketing or are we marketing to consumers who live in a digital world because the cost of not adopting marketing in a digital world is far more than adopting it,” stated Mr Tilak.
To speak or not to speak
Experts have often advised brands to be part of the conversation on social media, to respond to consumers when it is required and to own up when something goes awry. Ong Hock Chuan, Partner at Maverick, reminded that sometimes the biggest of brands were capable of getting it all wrong on social media. He quoted examples such as Edelman’s blog post ‘Carpe Diam’ at the time of actor Robin William’s death suggesting that brands utilise the news as an opportunity to highlight depression that was the cause of the senior actor’s death or London Luton citing the crash of another airline or Malaysian Airlines’s bucket list fiasco as some of the instances of social media crisis.
“Sometimes it can also happen when you are crowd sourcing like in the case of DowChemicals and sometimes you cannot predict where an attack can come from like with Greenpeace and Nestle in 2010. But at times, despite the social media backlash, the performance of the brand can be quite surprising,” explained Mr Chuan.
In the case of Nestle, the sales of Kit Kat had grown during the time of its social media crisis. Similarly, McDonald’s #McDStories that turned out to be more controversial than helpful for the brand saw a net income increase by 11 per cent in the period. “There is a disconnect here – the crisis did not hit sales adversely. This begs the question on whether sometimes the best thing to do is stay silent and let it die down, which goes against anything that a social media solution provider would have suggested but it also means that there are no formulas and it is imperative to understand a situation before addressing it,” Mr Chuan advised.