Social media deserves more attention than it currently draws from corporations. Opinion leaders can capitalize on being brand ambassadors, and consumers can use this to strategically build a network of peer-to-peer promotions around any product, brand or idea. In the face of the negative opinion, social media creates a heightened sense of urgency to respond immediately whereas in the past there was not a real-time medium to air grievances. Add in the influence of opinion leaders, and you can have a multi-million-dollar corporation on the brink of bankruptcy. Conversely, social media brings awareness of social issues that would otherwise be unknown without accessibility. To get ahead of future instances of bad publicity, corporations should always be engaging consumers through social media and building their trust.
Additionally, by identifying opinion leaders and incentivizing them to be brand ambassadors is peer-to-peer marketing that has proven to be successful. Every social media outlet is not beneficial for every corporation but based on platforms best align with their purpose, that should be the platform(s) to target for maximum engagement. In another discussion this week, the question posed is how opinion leaders can incorporate traditional media outlets. To bring the full discussion circle, the journalists that we see reporting the news daily, are opinion leaders. It would behoove businesses more to reach out to these public figures and ask them to be an ambassador through their social media platforms instead of relying on ads through traditional media outlets. Companies have been set on the traditional route in responding to issues, and they must adapt their communication strategies to remain favorable in the eyes of consumers.
But enough about social media influencers and traditional media outlets. Beyond all of what we can predict to improve brand awareness and consumers’ opinions, the companies that withstand the tests of technological time value one thing over salespeople. People and the social capital they have to offer can be an overlooked aspect of improving business. Often, people only have an opinion when they are ready to complain about a product or customer service. There’s no better way to combat negative feedback than to take control of the narrative and seek out opinions from the first time and returning customers. This is not limited to the surveys at the bottom of a receipt or occasional quality assurance follow-up questionnaire. Instead, inviting groups controlled groups to test new products and provide an incubator-like environment to brainstorm ideas.
From these study groups, consumers could be allowed to take what they have learned and start a conversation over social media. From Simon Sinek’s TED talk on how great leaders inspire action, a critical point is companies must know why they exist. Such a simple idea can bring forth profound messaging to capture consumers..