Are Brands racing too fast into social?

It sure feels like it. Much like in the early 90’s when every company had to have a website, today brands “need to be social”. Only problem is many of them don’t know how, and unlike yester-year, today they are getting called to the mat when their efforts are disjointed.

While I’m an advocate of the social world, I strongly believe brands should not dive in until they have strategically defined a reason for being. I see too many brands participating in things that are not in sync with their customers or their employees.

Allow me to share a personal experience. I recently walked into a Sports Authority (@sportsauthority) to purchase a good amount of equipment. As I checked in using @foursquare, I was excited to take advantage of their $10 cash card offer (which I had unlocked). As I attempted to pay for my merchandise, I showed & told the cashier about my offer, but no luck (this is when things started to get ugly). For starters, the cashier didn’t know what Foursquare was, never mind the offer I was trying to redeem. It gets better, she calls for a manager (takes about 5 min for someone to show up at the register), and when he arrived, he did not know about the offer either. I think you see the problem here – the left side of the brand pushes out a great promotion, but the rights side of the brand has no idea what’s going on…an obvious recipe for disaster. To finish the story, without making a stink, I simply paid for my merchandise and walked out. On a positive note, both folks were pleasant to deal with; they were just unfortunately not informed.

The fact I was unable to redeem my offer isn’t what concerned me. I was more bothered thinking that a brand like Sports Authority couldn’t connect the dots on what should have been a great case study, but is now a missed opportunity to connect with me in a meaningful way.

I write this post not to criticize Sports Authority, but to merely illustrate my point of how a brand rushed into a promotion/campaign, and did not have all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. I actually applaud Sports Authority for leaping in by using Foursquare as part of their marketing mix. However, the experience was not seamless, and their efforts fell short of satisfying – which I have to believe is their end goal.

Hoping this helps create a “Social” Authority.

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