The FINANCIAL -- More than ever before marketers are looking to take advantage of their
consumers’ social footprint in order to grow their brand endorsements
and generate quality conversations amongst relevant consumer groups.
According to Manchester Business School, these brands are using social media to harness the power of trust amongst target consumers, which is now seen as a form of social currency. The desired outcome of trust is an increase in quality conversation on social networks, as well as being alluded to positively in consumers’ comments.
The credibility pattern in consumers’ brand advocacies and recommendations stems from the trust factor between consumers and due to this, social media marketing is based on a currency that can be called profitable trust.
The social media platform acts as the main distribution channel for these conversations and this is where profitable trust is harnessed. The platform does not therefore promote trust by itself – it merely exploits it.
However this profitable trust is delicate where its currency can easily be devalued through reach limitation and diminishing depth.
Devaluation of social currency through reach limitation is caused by social indifference, which in turn leads to an inert distribution of the communication. Consumers start to filter and ignore some of their friends’ activities, leading to a lowered attention and interaction to the news feed - creating a state of indifference that affects the distribution of brands’ messages.
As the impression rate (or awareness) of the message is key for the overall communication cycle, ignoring the message feed would limit the reach and therefore the value of the trust currency.
The credibility of a social message is a function of the trust factor between friends and the past knowledge or experience with the brand which is being recommended; minus any prior devaluation that had happened through a reduced trust depth.
Applications are finding more ways than ever before of accessing wider networks - often being given explicit consent to post messages on the behalf of the user and hence generate an endorsement at any given time this company wants until its right is revoked.
These consents are often misused by some companies that broadcast multiple postings in the name of the user, leading to a reduced trust level by the network and a re-evaluation of the recommendations this user would post in the future.
Similarly clickjacking or likejacking happens when a user clicks a posting which contains a hidden like button. With this click, the application automatically spams the user’s friends’ network that would fall under the same trap by clicking this posting. This leads to more wary users who would minimise their clicks on their friends’ postings and recommendations, diluting even further the trust factor currency.
So while the potential of social media communication and marketing is a given - marketing and research communities need to explore the friction points that lead to a reduced or negative relationship level with brands. Only when the issues are further understood, and the social media infrastructure refined, will brand-consumer relationships become more efficient. Not all that glitters is social …
Zahy Ramadan is a Doctor of Business Administration student at Manchester Business School in the MOMS division – supervisor Dr. Ibrahim Abosag.