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Are we headed for a brand backlash?

People take Facebook very seriously

The internet is a wonderful thing. Online shopping has enabled me to so far buy all of my Christmas presents without physically visiting a single shop, and thanks to Facebook I know that my friend in America is having a baby and has put up her Christmas tree. But when it comes to businesses and their use of online marketing, are we heading for a backlash?

Ahead of moving into my new flat I’ve been searching online for bathrooms and sofas. Now every time I login to my email account, I am bombarded with adverts for these products. But my email provider is not the only one – Facebook is perhaps the most well known website for its targeted advertising. A few years ago I was faced with “Are you 23 and single?” adverts (thanks for the reminder, Facebook!) and now I’m listed as ‘in a relationship’ I get engagement ring ads instead! Twitter has also launched sponsored tweets. There is no escape.

Despite some brands having great successes using these forms of online marketing, a survey by PR Moment showed that 57% of people have never become a fan of a brand on Facebook. And of the 43% that have, only 40% find them useful. Are people sick of being sold to? Are we reaching saturation point? Will we soon be facing a ‘brand backlash’ where consumers rise up against the world of marketing? Will we find more people willing to pay to use these sites without being faced with marketing and advertising?

Perhaps. But the chances are that as long as brands go about marketing in the right way, we will avoid this. People will continue to take advantage of things that are useful to them; and I think that’s the key. When faced with this kind of marketing, people think ‘what’s in it for me?’ – if it’s entertaining, informative or useful then it’s likely to be a winner. Take the campaign by Shreddies to find the next ‘Knitting Nana’ as an example.

By using online marketing in the right way, brands can avoid alienating their customers. As long as they remember:

  • Put yourself into the shoes of your customers – who are they, where are they and what do they want to see or hear?
  • Make content interesting and useful – remember that what’s interesting to you as a company won’t necessarily interest your customers. Give the people what they want.
  • Don’t be too corporate – when it comes to social media, engagement and a human touch is key.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment – there are no rules when it comes to social media!

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