Is it possible for „sensitive” brands to pursue effective social media marketing?
Sensitive brands in the digital world
Major brands communicating towards consumer audiences have been using dedicated social media channels for many years now. From Facebook through Instagram & Snapchat, the options available for marketers are quite wide, offering a wide arrangement of relevant solutions based on the brand’s needs and dedicated target groups of customers.
The difference in the social media needs of the brands was discussed multiple times, but what about the so called „sensitive” brands? By „sensitive” brands we mean corporations whose products or services generate a debate within society. Among the most obvious products we find tobacco products and alcoholic drinks, spirits. Firms involved in lending micro-loans are also affected due to the debated nature of their services. We are going to look into the latter as an example.
The advertising of short term micro loan products or even the service itself is restricted in multiple markets. In Hungary –in general- they can operate but they must abide to strict set of laws. Facebook itself does not allow the direct advertising of short term micro loans or related products, however it allows these brands to pursue not product related communication. Affected firms have to consider the following steps before immersing themselves in social media:
- Do they have an established communications strategy with clear non-product focused topics and creative platforms?
- Are these platforms suitable to support the business objectives of the company without directly advertising the product? Example: communicating austerity will result in more self-aware customers who can repay their installments in time.
- Do they have the required capacity and expertise to handle large numbers of problematic visitors in a fast and effective way during cases of emergency?
- If they use an agency, are the processes between client and agency managed effectively?
- Do they have clear communication targets and are they aware of the risks coming from mishandled campaign management?
The role of creative ideas:
The segment of micro-loans is quite controversial in the public eye, therefore creatives used have an extremely important role in shaping the perception of the companies. Communication has to project a reliable and helpful image of the company, whose aim is to find a solution for the issues of it’s customers. Financial education should also be an integral part of the social media strategy as the best clients for these firms are the ones who can pay their installments on time.
One safe way is to communicate tips&tricks on how to manage your financial matters in a controlled manner. Numerous topics can be included within this topic: cheap recipes, free sport & cultural possibilities, DIY home improvement materials. All these materials must help to establish the image of a professional but friendly firm (despite the nature of the business segment).
The role of CRM processes:
In our case social media acts as an integral part of the CRM ecosystem. Facebook itself can be a CRM platform but or could be used to serve as a channel towards client service departments. The most important aspects are speed and efficiency. Customers receiving fast and helpful responses will result in high customer satisfaction levels. Do not forget: finance is a sensitive issue for everyone. People want immediate and comforting help from the brand.
The role of the agency-client relationship:
The sensitive nature of these business requires a more effective client-agency relationship than usual. Things can slip out of control really fast, which must not happen. An effective social media and online marketing management requires dedicated colleagues from both the client’s and agency’s side as well, and the communication channels need constant monitoring to prevent any kind of escalation.
The role of campaign management and targeting:
One must act with extreme caution when selecting social media communication targets. We have to spread the “message” of the brand but must also be aware that this could result in a backlash as the consumers may have a mixed/negative perception towards the brand. In case of Facebook we suggest using reach based targeting as these options will enable us to deliver “non-product” related messages to the consumers efficiently. Ads aimed at generating engagement are not suggested, since higher engagement can easily lead to a large numbers of negative comments and generate an uproar in the community, and take the control of the situation away from the brand.
Above all, sensitive brands require careful planning and an in-depth knowledge of social media/digital expertise to be effective in the digital space. If possible, it is always suggested to consult with a dedicated advertising agency and not start communicating “on your own”.
We at INTREN are specialists of advanced digital marketing and would be happy to help you finding the best possible solution for your brands, may they belong to the above mentioned sensitive categories or not.