Does your bank really need a Snapchat account?

ATM Queue

ATM Queue

After almost a decade of fighting for this, we’re finally at a point where CEOs & CFOs have cottoned onto the idea that digital is the way of the future, and your communications and marketing strategies need to take this into account. It’s fantastic. Digital communications and activations are finally no longer the last in the line to receive whatever is left over of marketing budgets.

For those of us who’ve been fighting to get to this day, It’s definitely liberating. Suddenly all these ideas which we’ve had are feasible. When looking at how we’re discharging our digital marketing spend however, I’m concerned that we are getting carried away. From an anecdotal basis, however, we’re seeing brands pop up in the most peculiar of spaces doing things that are entirely out of step for who they are. With the explosive growth of Snapchat, to give one example, we’re already seeing a tsunami of articles professing how brands should use this service.

But putting our marketer hats aside for a second, do we really want our bank sending us pictures or videos which self-delete after 10 seconds?

The basic fact which – suddenly flush with money – we are ignoring, is that not every company needs a blog, presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever other social network is out there.

Even fewer, if we’re honest, even need an app. However, a 2013 report from the University of Massachusetts found that 34% of Fortune 500 companies are now actively blogging, 77% maintain active Twitter accounts, 70% have Facebook pages and 69% have YouTube accounts. And even the most casual of social media users will have seen how many companies are trying to “talk to you” at all times wherever you are online.

In our zeal to create communities that are real, engaged, and translate to customer retention or new business leads, we’re forgetting that at the end of the day, our corporate social media presences are corporate communications tools.

Look at the criticism Durex faced failed its infamous social media fail of 2011, one of many similar examples. For those who may need a reminder, the company — which ever so coyly boasts of having “sexual health and well-being experts” in its employ – had been posting jokes and collecting user responses under the #DurexJokes hashtag for several weeks. But when it tweeted “Why did God give men penises? So that they’d have at least one way to shut women up,” the backlash was anything but funny.

Durex-comment

Although of itself the joke is pure misogyny, the core point to the countless of marketers, commentators, and general Twitter users who took exception to the tweet, was that Durex SA was not your everyday social media user.

While your Joe Bloke may make equally crass and tasteless jokes, despite its best efforts to be engaging and real, despite its best efforts to not seem to be a “corporate” speaking from on high, Durex is a corporation and will always be judged as one.

This column isn’t a rehashing of that saga, but a reminder that ultimately your brand accounts are still brands and must behave as such. A joke here and there, or the use of a daring social media tactic or channel may work perfectly for your everyday user, but — as a brand on social media — you must remember you are engaged in a marketing effort, because your audience always does.

Digital and social media may have revolutionised how companies and brands communicate to their consumers, however they have not changed the basic rules of marketing.

Social media — or even digital, in general — marketing isn’t about re-inventing the wheel, or latching onto every new channel, network, and meme, there is out there. It’s about doing what you’ve always done, being careful and considerate when connecting brands to people, only just on digital platforms.

Image: Jordan Sim via Flickr.

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