The Marketing Corner: Social Expression

February 24, 2015 Updated: February 24, 2015

Lately, it appears the business climate has been a bit chilly at times.

There is a saying that “It’s lonely at the top!” This couldn’t be truer when one realizes just how social media has changed go-to-market strategies at businesses. Many large corporations that are leading their industries are feeling pretty lonely. Their sheer size puts them under the proverbial microscope.

It is astonishing to even vocalize that consumers are using social media to strengthen a desired outcome. Below provides a case in point.

In recent years many consumers, via social media, rallied to increase minimum wage. There were not only in-person protests but the protesting on social went viral to the point those in government had to pause and consider what action they would take. Many businesses were put in a very uncomfortable position and some were forced to choose a side.

Other trending topics on social media have included business that relocate to another state (thereby taking revenue and jobs out of a given state), treatment of workers, marriage equality, humane treatment of animals, and even political affiliations/issues.

These various movements have taken on a new life due to the rise of social media. Consumers are seeking transparency and are using social media to vocalize their concerns. It is the expectation in 2015 that the consumers’ need to be heard will escalate.

Real or imagined hits from the social space can have real impact on a business.

This is sometimes to the detriment of businesses because many consumers are ill-informed or feel no responsibility for what they post in the social realm. Real or imagined hits from the social space can have real impact on a business. Additionally, many consumers are not even financially tied to many of the organizations or movements. They just use their click or post to endorse their support. Hence the consumer, in many instances, is reacting strictly on emotion.

So what does this mean for businesses?

One must be very cautious about messages that are deployed into the marketplace. Businesses can no longer afford to link their business or brand to an issue or organization without fully exploring the potential impact. The more information you place into the marketplace the more one is at risk for scrutiny. It is increasingly important to evaluate your campaigns and even test with focus groups before launching messages to consumers.

Be sure that any claims made can be validated as truthful. Consumers, as a whole, have little tolerance for misrepresentation or omissions. Their actions and social media commentary can sometimes feel very punitive and in many cases unforgiving.

It only takes a second for a negative post to appear about your brand. However, it will take even longer to undo such negativity once it hits the social media stratosphere. Do your business a favor and ensure your messages are accurate from the start, and don’t be afraid to admit mistakes or missteps.

If you want to take the guess work out of what you should and should not do with social media, here is the best rule of engagement—honesty is the best policy.

Adele Lassere is a marketing/advertising consultant with 20+ years experience, freelance writer and author of “Elements of Buying” (self-help advertising guide); available at Amazon.com. Adele was listed as Black Enterprise’s 2011 Top Execs in Marketing & Advertising and Black Enterprise’s 2013 Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing. Contact: adelelassere@gmail.com