Let’s revisit the concept of screening for our social media marketers. Screening is the process of online scrutiny by the users/online visitors as to the claim made by the firm. You can encounter positive as well negative scrutiny on your road ahead to the achievement of relationship goals you have set for your social media campaign. By campaign we don’t necessarily mean a social media marketing campaign, but even a Facebook page used for communicating with the visitors could be seen as a part of the company’s overall social media presence.
How Screening Works?
Clearly, positive scrutiny vouches for the claim or product friendly observations made by the visitors and negative ones either raise questions or refute the claim. Hence it becomes all the more significant to understand various aspects of the concept of screening within the domain of social media marketing and how social media marketers can manage screening and try using it to their own advantage.
A firm accepts certain explicit and implicit guidelines when it decides to foray into the ever changing and highly volatile online world. The effects are far reaching and it in fact has the unprecedented ability to magnify the company’s online actions. The intended affect could be magnified ‘x’ times once it gathers momentum in social media or as more and more visitors/customers/prospects start hopping on to the ‘online contribution’ –Contributing in terms of Facebook/Twitter/You tube comments likes etc.- bandwagon. The Sad news however is, it works both ways. So you might end up getting 20,000 likes instead of the intended 5000 or could face a serious backlash , if something in the social media space didn’t work as expected. Firms however ignore this fact at times leading them to the damage control mode.
A Case in Point:
A recent case was seen in Bollywood, when a leading English National daily was accused by one of the actresses for showing disrespect towards women, as the newspaper had uploaded certain pictures of her which the actress thought were highlighted in an obscene manner. The issue got on to the likes of tweeter/Facebook and a flood of comments provided fuel to the fire. It is important to note that the picture had been on the newspaper’s site for quite some time and the actress had made note of it quite recently. Noteworthy here is the fact that the issue got picked up when it came on social media and the actress tweeted about the issue. People contributed to the flurry of comments and it continued for a few more days. Social media not only brought the issue to limelight, but also magnified the effect and the newspaper had to take down the pictures due to the fear of a prolonged backlash.
Screening is unavoidable:
Scrutiny is inevitable in the online space. Sadly you can’t wish it away, and this asks of you to find out ways to live with it. One of the best strategies companies can follow is to reveal the truth. Yes, you got it right. Well it’s not to say that companies didn’t provide the complete information back then. But the competitive advantage of information is no more available to the firms. Users interact, post comments, ask questions and receive replies online. This makes it all the more difficult for firms to play the ‘information’ ploy. Users now create the brand/product and not the firm; the users decide the way it will be talked about at least in the online space and not the company. You could plan for any of the intended effects, but it would go in vain unless the users respond accordingly.
Managing the Screening:
- Involve Users and Don’t Interfere Much
The best strategy hence in such a case is to involve the users and induce them to be a part of the brand/product, so that they don’t feel cheated at the end of it. You involve them by letting them post comments as it is and don’t try to play the big brotherly role. AMAZON is a great example of authentic user content posted on its sites. They don’t remove a negative comment and let the users decide about the product and the comment. They cultivate this feeling of trust and try to convince the customers to revisit their site for future purchases. For consumers, AMAZON provides authentic feedback. Too much of interference is obviously not called for; else it might look artificial and a mere formality to be on the online space
- Let Them Collaborate
You should also allow people to contribute more, as social media is about people themselves and the collaborative content
- Let the users make the strategy and not you
User feedback/comments should guide your understanding of the offering and the segment. You should feel the need to change the existing strategy based on the way people talk about the offering and not on your whims and fancies
The View Point
Putting everything in perspective, social media seems an additional and more effective lens provided for screening to the end user. Its reach, real time and effective communication form the upside and not so surprisingly the same reasons form the downside as well. You must learn to live with it and find out ways to manage it all to your advantage.