It’s no surprise that people can be cynical about brand-sponsored online communities, including Facebook Pages.
This cynicism is neatly captured by the new Condescending Corporate Brand Page on Facebook which cleverly shares some of the ‘typical content’ you may see from corporate pages.
People have been cynical about advertising and marketing for years and why should social media be any different?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while – and trying not to become deflated by it. There are a lot of corporate online spaces that are trying to genuinely engage with the public; to listen to people, support communities, ask for input and work on projects together. But how do brands walk that fine line, when some members of the public will never be pleased to see them in social media at all – a space they may see as their own, for their family and friends.
So today I was a bit surprised to see the following occurring on Target Australia’s Facebook Page:
For those of you who don’t know, R U OK? Day is “a national day of action dedicated to encouraging all Australians to ask family, friends and colleagues ‘Are you ok?’ It’s on the second Thursday of September”.
I wasn’t surprised to see a brand like Target talk about and support the RU OK Day message, but I was surprised at how many people interacted when the question was asked. More than 1,000 people liked it. There were 38 shares and 75 comments (so far, since its posting two days ago).
Would you tell a brand that you were feeling down? Would you answer that question if a corporation prompted you? What would you expect would occur, if you said ‘no’, you weren’t feeling ok?
Personally, I wouldn’t be motivated to do this and wouldn’t expect a helping hand or listening ear from Target. To me, the company is there to provide cheap cotton t-shirts for my children. But clearly, for others, social media (and indeed the online world) is a space where they will feel comfortable enough to share their feelings with anyone who asks.
I must admit I was heartened to see many of Target’s Facebook fans genuinely interacting rather than being cynical. Some people could howl down Target for venturing into the mental health sphere, or tell them to spend more time tidying their store aisles. But instead Target received a lot of praise for its post, in particular for following up its initial R U OK? post and sharing the website link to more information.
Social media is wonderfully unpredictable, isn’t it? But this also points to influence. What would have occurred if the first few responses had been cynical or angry? Or if the first few responses started to make inappropriate jokes about RU OK Day? The conversation could have taken an entirely different turn.
What do you think of this Target comments thread?