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Tony explains Social Media

“Marriage, or any relationship for that matter, is a give and a take”. Zeitgeist has been prone to quoting various great men in its articles, from Horace to Obama. Tony Soprano makes a good point however. The quotation applies to the world of social media too. In fact, late last year, eConsultancy posted ‘The Tony Soprano guide to social media’. Mr. Soprano has a number of pithy insights that can be applied to the management of the social media sphere as easily as to that of the criminal underworld. Not that Zeitgeist is making a comparison between the two.

As eConsultancy says, “social media is not about sales: it’s about service. The sales that arise from social optimisation are a tangible bonus.” This is why some brands have a hard time knowing how to engage with social media. Is it about a quick ROI or a more long-term brand-building exercise, or both? “A wrong decision is better than indecision” is one of Tony’s quotations. Is that always the case though? If you whack some guy who you think is a rat and then turns out not to be, surely that is a bad turn of events? Last year, Toyota ran a competition for their Yaris model to create a short film with Saatchi & Saatchi. The competition was not terribly popular. Faced with the prospect of no entries, the agency emailed a production house asking for submissions, which obviously skewed the results. The result was awful.

Honda also had a social media fail last year when it set up a page on Facebook for a new model. Users were not very impressed with the car but then one person commented that they would “get this car in a heartbeat”. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a manager of product planning for Toyota… More recently, Vodafone’s Twitter account suffered from an offensive post by an employee. Bad as this was, the company tried to make amends by replying publicly to every single one their followers. eConsultancy noted, “Hundreds of retweets ensured that the company’s speedy deletion of the tweet was a redundant exercise”. Yet, another article talks about the opportunities such a fracas might now present.

In some cases of course, social media can save a brand. As noted already by Zeitgeist, cult film director Kevin Smith recently clashed with Southwest Airlines. Mr. Smith had booked two seats on a flight, but his plans changed and he joined the standby list for another flight. With only one seat, Smith’s gourmand-like person was apparently enough of a problem / eyesore to warrant the captain of the flight to ask him to disembark. The director voiced his outrage on Twitter, and was promptly apologised to by the airline’s Twitter account, offering him $100. Smith continued to rant, asking the airline to provide a seat for him on a talk show, as clearly the man thought he had not yet lost enough pride. A high proportion of followers interestingly sided with the airline, evincing that singular advocacy, albeit powerful, will not always win. Southwest though they may now have set a precedent (financial at least), for complaints of a rotund nature.

“Do we need to talk in private?” Tony suggests. Not all conversations between company and consumer can be solved in the open forum of social media. It is not for every brand, and even if it is compatible, you might still get burned.

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  1. March 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Bookmarked https://zeitgeistandstuff.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/tony-explains-social-media/. Thank you for sharing. Definitely worth the time away from my homework.

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