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The social space is constantly evolving. It undergoes changes by the minute and marketers need to either match pace with these changes or simply give away the unique opportunity that these tools provide to reach out to their customers. With newer platforms, advertising units and usage tools entering the customer’s consideration set every day, the challenges are not just limited to how to reach your customer, it is in fact more about retaining him.

Following are five of the many challenges that every brand, that is promoting itself on social media faces:

1) Having a social media strategy in place. On time!: The most recent case of this not being in place for a brand at the right time is the Maggi controversy. Had the Nestle team realised the bigness of the issue when the first feelers of it getting banned were felt, the story would have been different. They did wake up well and good when it hit back the markets but we cannot disagree that it was not prepared for all the damage that was done to the brand on social media platforms. It is important that one understands this space well to milk it the optimum way. One should be aware of how Facebook works differently than Pinterest for the brand and then develop creative and messaging to suit that platform. Even if it means outsourcing a specialist, it is important that a strategy is in place so the results can be analysed using analytics and engagement can be converted into action by consumers.

2) Customer loyalty is fragile: Call it herd mentality or flipside of the new times, the truth is that customers are shifting their loyalty fluidly. Every social media campaign divides people into two clear groups. These two groups will then start debating with each other on why they are on that side. So essentially a marketer’s job is done once these groups automatically solve the purpose of keeping the brand in news. But the people who are with you today will actually convert into real customers- that is the illusion you will have to get out of your mind. Most are fragile; often following the popular opinions hence it is important that the brand walks the talk. If it has made a certain promise through its communication, it needs to clearly stay firm on that promise. Take for instance what the AIB team after the (in)famous roast video did. They faced legal action, brickbats from the Bollywood community itself, major flak by a large section of society but they also had a huge supporter base. They did apologise keeping in mind the social fabric of the country they are operating in but also apologised to their fans saying ‘maybe we were ahead of times’. Retain your followers by standing up to your communication as consumers have way too many opinions and more than that- options!

3) What is the right way to measure success: Is it brand awareness? Is it traffic to the website? Is it the likes, shares and comments your posts generate? What is it that can assure a marketer that his dough on the social media activity has worked for him? This question is both difficult and easy to answer. The purpose of the campaign needs to be clear. We live in a world where start-ups suddenly start shoving their brands in our faces through full page newspaper ads the minute they get a VC funding. Before they have arranged these funds they are slowly and steadily using the social media to make a soft launch with impactful videos and depending on virality for a buzz around the brand. If enough buzz has been created around your brand, the traditional advertising media then acts as an able support mechanism. However if one has failed with getting the right message across through the social media route, no other support will work. Hence success will be achieved with the right mix of mediums and not by underestimating the power of one over another.

4) Options are unlimited (but one needs to choose right): If a video gets viral, every brand wishes to touch the same emotional chord by making a video around their brand message. If memes work for a certain brand, every other brand will tell their social media strategist to come up with memes. What marketers fail to understand is that consumers are not foolish. Why some things work and others don’t is because the consumer will understand when a marketer has made an honest strategy to reach them. Take for instance the Amul Butter strategy. For years Amul has come up with topical ads reflecting the current mood of the nation. They have become such champions of this style of advertisement that people wait for a social comment from this brand on national topics. Even with the advent of social media, Amul butter kept their messaging similar. They always had the virality trigger in them and even while leveraging the power of Facebook and Twitter shares, they ultimately remained honest in their messages. The rest just works in their favour because they aren’t following a ‘new’ trend desperately. They are simply being themselves and this resonates with the loyalists. Know what each platform offers and then decide what will work for your brand.

5) Your plans may back fire: If you have not taken care of above points and your messaging doesn’t suit the medium or measurement is not place or your creatives are not fresh enough to suit the promptness of a medium like say Twitter, chances are that the plans may backfire. Who can forget the Lenskart tweet right after the Nepal Earthquake when they announced a discount scheme saying: Shake it off like this Earthquake. Riding on a tragedy and thinking you could break the clutter, well, that is a sure shot recipe for a social suicide.

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