In last week’s blog post, I explored the ‘digital delusion’ of allocating digital work to IT departments or people without consultation or collaboration with the appropriate marketing, operations, public affairs and other departmental professionals.
The ensuing result was a communication or application that might well be functionally perfect, but failed to meet its fundamental business objective.
This common occurrence displays the ‘pendulum’ pattern of many developments involving change – a virtual disposal of traditional approaches in favour of a brave new way, only to find that actually some of the traditional fundamentals were quite sound before eventual settling on a middle position.
This week I wanted to provide a real life example of this effect at work.
What are your communication objectives?
The communication technique in question is social media. Whilst this is clearly a digital technique from a technical perspective, its role within an organisation is usually to achieve an objective of:
- Marketing (or promotion)
- Customer communication
- Customer service
Therefore the person or supplier charged with executing the social media campaign or strategy should really be qualified in any or all of these disciplines because, again, without them you could end up with a technically proficient marketing failure.
Exhibit A – A local restaurant
In this case, the restaurant in question hired someone who claimed to be a ‘social media expert’ with the express aim of promoting the business to bring in both new and repeat customers.
The expert went to work and came up with a range of creative ideas to keep the restaurant top of mind with its (in this case) 434 Facebook ‘Likes’.
Tick for strategy
From a marketing perspective, the fundamental strategy was sound. A well-managed Facebook page is a cost-effective way of promoting the business to customers new and old, particularly given that a quality restaurant is a ‘high passion’ business – one that is likely to attract willing participants in its ongoing marketing and communications efforts.
But whilst the posts were relatively engaging and helped keep the restaurant top of mind with its ‘Likers’ it fell down on some factors that could be described as Marketing 101 fundamentals – presentation and branding.
This murky shot of a tasty desert might be acceptable to come from the camera of a patron, but not from the restaurant itself.
Take the above photograph for example. While it’s great that the restaurant is promoting one of its signature dishes, the image itself is murky and unclear, or essentially amateurish.
This illustrates digital delusion perfectly. Whilst it achieved the technical objectives of creating an interesting post, it failed to do so in a way that was of a professional quality and in fact could even damage the reputation of the restaurant.
Isn’t Facebook amateur?
But aren’t ‘snaps’ like this the mainstay of Facebook?
When they are from patrons of the restaurant, absolutely. Friends of the poster will understand that their Friend is an amateur photographer and find their shot quite acceptable to illustrate a great dessert.
But for this business, it isn’t acceptable. Consumers have been treated to the highest quality of creative communications in the media for decades. They expect a photograph to portray a dish at the highest possible quality to provide a sense of quality and professionalism – even if offered to them in a medium crawling with amateur pictures.
Business not pleasure
A murky snap from a smartphone just doesn’t cut it – particularly with such a sensual (in the true sense of the word) product as food.
Another post contains a shot of a number of patrons enjoying their meal.
Again, in the right hands, the shot could have been a great way to illustrate the enjoyment of the food the restaurant provided.
But in practice, a gloomy shot of half-eaten meals just looks messy and ugly. Is this what you want for your ‘brand’?
Context and quality
To the credit of the social media expert, they did find some professional images and posted these from time to time.
But the fact that they can’t distinguish a damaging image from an enticing one does only demonstrates their lack of experience and knowledge of professional marketing.
Why would you even bother with the amateur snaps when you have professional images at your fingertips?
Unfortunately, this scenario is an all-too-common case of the social media tail wagging the marketing dog.
It’s a practice your business should avoid if it wants to present itself in a professional manner.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.