Brands: Consumers don’t want to be your BFF in social (they want help)
Brands are trying to appear more human and friendly to their audience. That is worthy. No matter the medium, when people interact with your brand, the response should be friendly and helpful. However, there’s a fine line between being helpful and being overbearing, especially when it comes to the “human” element.
With a seemingly endless array of new digital platforms and fewer communication barriers between brands and consumers, the line between the two has become blurred. But seeing as brands are not people, we marketers should be making a concerted effort to make that line distinct again. Friends are almost always peers, but brands are far more famous, rich and powerful than we are. My friends can talk to me any time they want to. A brand cannot, because we all know that a brand’s agenda in doing so is more about them than it is about us. A brand generally cannot be counted on to care whether I’ve had a good day, only whether I’ve inched closer to a purchase. To pretend otherwise is just awkward, and may make people less inclined to go out and buy your product, as they’ll likely be turned off by your efforts. What a brand should want is loyalty, not friendship; what it should provide is service, not a BFF bracelet.
Chatvertising is the next logical step in the social media fueled notion that brands can behave like people. As we continue to experiment with new modes of advertising, we must remember the inherently unequal, dissimilar relationships between brands and consumers. When a new strategy comes up, our first question should be whether it honors or blurs those distinctions. If the latter, let’s move on.
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