In an era where the world has become a small community since mobile-internet became a fad, it was only timely for renowned brands like First Bank, Fanta, GTBank, Guinness Stout, Smirnoff and more to leverage on, through the popular social network platforms like Facebook and Twitter to have direct interaction with their consumers.
No doubt, new digital technologies have continued to reshape industry after industry, it is imperative for organizations to evaluate the implications and opportunities for their business. The changes have been profound. Consider how companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Groupon, Skype, and Netflix are fundamentally transforming the marketplace.
At first glance, it seems the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ as a platform for social networking can only enhance the ability of these brands to create value for their customers. Indeed, social networking deepens brandsâ€™ connection with consumers by enabling brand loyalists to communicate directly with one another as well as with the company.
This, however, is only one side of the coin. The other side is that social interactions also can have the opposite effect, weakening lifestyle brands and decreasing brand equity. The problem with this line of reasoning, however, is that consumersâ€™ need for self-expression is not without limits and, like any other need, can be satiated. This means that lifestyle brands amongst others do not evade the competition; instead they end up competing for a share of a consumerâ€™s identity. And as an increasing number of brands turn to lifestyle positioning, the competition among self-expressive brands intensifies.
As a result, the competitive advantage a brand might have gained by pioneering a presence on Facebook is likely to fade away as the majority of lifestyle brands follow this lead and establish their presence on Facebook as well. The consumer has been king for quite a while now, but in the new social world, the consumer is more powerful than ever before. Consumersâ€™ Facebook statuses, tweets, blogs and YouTube videos can build or break your brand in the eyes of their online friends â€“ and your potential buyers.
It is each companyâ€™s responsibility to make its own voice heard in all this noise. Give customers positive news and information to discuss online â€“ not only will you encourage further discussion of your brand, building brand recognition, but any positive news will proactively boost your brandâ€™s reputation. Self expression which could not be effectively measured on the face of social network could make or mar any organization, considering the fact that information seekers and givers have using the platform as a very vital tool.
Thus, information which is not well managed by a company and thereby finding its way or linked on the social network to the brand consumers could result to crises or issue management problem from the brand. Our need for self-expression is a fundamental human need that can be satiated by various means, not only by company-created brands. We express ourselves through our hobbies, by listening to our favorite music, cheering for our home teams, going to our favorite restaurants and clubs, and socializing with family and friends.
On the contrary, it has been revealed that the Social Networking sites has promoted the usage of internet slang (Internet short-hand, netspeak or chatspeak), a type of slang that Internet users have popularized, and in many cases, have coined. Such terms often originate with the purpose of saving keystrokes.
Many people use the same abbreviations in texting and instant messaging, and social networking websites. Acronyms, keyboard symbols and shortened words are often used as methods of abbreviation in Internet slang. New dialects of slang, such as ‘2MOR’ for ’ Tomorrow’, 4 for for’ in SMS, Yâ€“ Why, CUZ â€“ Because, ASAP – As soon as possible, b4 – Before, CU â€“ See you, ‘gr8’ for ‘Great’, BTW – By the way, BRB – Be right back, LOL – Laughing out loud, OMG – Oh my gosh, pls – Please, ppl – People, thx – Thanks, UR – Your, W8 – ‘Wait’ etc. Many items of Internet jargon cross from computer-mediated communication to face-to-face communication.
According to Onifade Collins, a brand consultant, the social network platform needs to be managed by experts who have update information about customer relation management or public relations in order to evaluate and monitor comments, observation and complains of about their brands. A teacher, Sandra Akinwale, said: “Student nowadays tends to use more of the internet slang in their note books and to send text messages because of the social media trend.Some of them with smartphones, blackberry and the likes even go ahead to have a chat while in school which has over time affected there English language expression.”
“The popularity of social media can make it a powerful tool for companies that manage it correctly. Not only can these new channels be used for customer service and interaction, but they are also invaluable as online brand management tools. These allow you to monitor and collect data on what customers are saying and react to it in real time across your organization, whether the issue is in PR, sales and marketing or product development.” said Emeka Anthony, an ICT Consultant.
This, of course, does not mean that Social Media is a threat to all lifestyle brands; there clearly will be winners and losers. Nevertheless, because our need for self-expression has boundaries and can be satiated via our social interactions will make achieving a successful lifestyle positioning a whole lot more challenging.