Social media today has become a very critical part of any Brand’s marketing campaign. Social media is a democratisation of media as no single person owns or controls it. This essay tries to showcase some of the important aspects of social media marketing, social media outlets, role of social media marketing manager and some of the effective ways of alternate dispute resolutions used during the social media transactions. It also tries and highlights any kind of agency relationship that exists today in social media marketing.
Keywords: social media, social media manager, alternate dispute resolution, outlets.
The social media, today, has become one of the most effective ways to market a product or a brand. Emails are no longer the primary way of electronic communication. Consumers today prefer to ‘tweet’ or ‘comment’ on the Face book page of a particular brand that is in question or even ‘chat’ with the executives to express their feedbacks, concerns or complaints. Most of the big brands have realised that the consumers start the purchasing cycle by actively looking for information on the internet through their Laptops, Tablets and Smart phones. If during that search a particular brand does not appear, or it appears but does not impress, then it drops out from the consumer’s wish list. This is the reason why businesses are now jumping on the social media bandwagon at a rapid pace, thereby embracing social networks to achieve their marketing and business goals.
Out of several social media ‘Outlets’ or ‘Hangouts’ like Face book, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Quora, Google +, Tumblr and Pinterest , Twitter has become one of the most prominent Social media outlet for businesses. Launched in March 21, 2006 today there are close to a billion twitter users all across the world. Most of the prominent Brands, right from Coca Cola to Red bull today have a prominent twitter –presence. Twitter is a real-time information sharing site which allows a ‘brand’ to generate audience in form of ‘followers’. These followers ‘tweet’ on the brand page and in this way connect with the brand on a real – time basis. According to a study, 47% of the people who follow a brand on twitter are more likely to visit that company’s website. And the percentage of twitter followers of a brand that are more likely to purchase a product from that brand is 72%. These are huge numbers and they justify why companies today are concerned of their twitter-feeds and the follower base. As on 21-January-2014, Coca cola had 2,259,389 followers while Red Bull had 1,340,005 twitter followers on its Official twitter page.
It is imperative that the social media managers who are responsible for utilising social media outlets like twitter and Face book for consumer transactions be well versed with the legalities of the business. Some of the main characteristics of a legally astute social media manager should be:
- Aligning the organisation according to the proper laws by understanding them at the first place. If you align your organisation according to the laws and regulations, the chances of disputes would be naturally reduced barring the service issues.
- Understanding the laws and regulations that govern the transactions in the cyberspace. Once a social media manager understands these, settling disputes become much easier and consumes lesser time. This leads to a quick dispute resolution and improves the overall productivity of the organisation. Moreover, a quick dispute resolution also creates a positive impact on the minds of the affected consumer.
- Ability to apply the specific laws. It would be impractical and ineffective to apply laws of money transactions to solve a dispute involving defective deliveries. So, it is very important to know which laws and regulation to apply during which time.
Sometime, there might arise some genuine disputes between consumer and the businesses while purchasing through links provided by social media. Arbitration, mediation and negotiation are some the best ways of alternate dispute resolution. Having an arbitration clause in the contract can be much more effective and time saving than court litigation. An ‘Arbitrator’ is being appointed for the arbitration process and it is he who decides the case in favour of any particular party. In Mediation both the concerned parties appoint a third neutral party called a ‘mediator’. This is more informal than arbitration. The mediator tries to take out an effective solution by analyzing the situation and tries to end the dispute. However, his decision cannot be imposed on either of the parties and it includes the mediator fees too. Finally the most practical way of resolving a dispute is through negotiation. It is an informal process where the two parties resolve their disputes by reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. Moreover, it is not necessary to appoint any one for negotiation. However, any party can appoint an attorney who can resolve the dispute. Negotiation can be the quickest, cheapest and the most private way of solving any dispute concerning social media.
There are laws in America that govern what the brands can do and cannot. These laws get passed by the legislatures; the executive branch enforces these laws and the judicial system interprets their application. ‘Social Media Privacy Bill’ has been one of the important measures for the state legislatures to control the misuse of passwords that are used during the consumer transactions through the social media outlet.
Today, there are many ‘Agency relationships’ that exist between the brands and social media agencies for promoting their products on social media outlets like twitter, face book and LinkedIn. ‘Wind chimes Communications’ is one of the examples of such a social media agency. Being one of the first social media agencies in India , Wind chimes communications manage the social media outlets of Brands like Lakme, Infosys, Ponds and Yardley to name a few. Wind chimes communications promotes and advertises these brands on various social media platforms and in turn receive an ‘agency fees’ every month as per the contractual agreement.
Social media today has thus become a necessity for brand promotion, marketing and sales. It is now up to the brands and their social media agencies as to how they utilize this to their advantage.
Wind chimes Communications. (2013). Social media Handbook . Mumbai, India.
The Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee. (1996). Alternate Dispute Resolution. New York City, USA.
May, K., & Sanders, P.M. (2012). How Arbitration Works, 57, 331-333.