By Simon Mahoney, SMP founding partner.
In today’s saturated yet fragmented media environment, where digital now plays a key role, brands are finding themselves under increasing pressure to deliver campaigns that in turn deliver a robust ROI.
Techniques such as online promotions are now a proven effective method to engage across a variety of digital platforms with a brand’s target audience, creating a high level of interaction and integrating and supporting other on and offline messages.
In addition, with the rapid escalation of social networking, the consumer is fast gaining control of the material (or brands) they engage with, and so the power of influence and behavioural change begins to shift out of a brand’s immediate control, subsequently changing the relationship a brand has with its audience.
Companies therefore need to recognise that people are engaging with brands with or without their approval and in some cases knowledge, which presents both an opportunity and a risk. So in order to maximise and protect your online promotional campaign, there are a few key areas that brands must be aware of.
Maximise your reach:
The opportunities in the digital sphere are limitless, enabling engagement with most demographics on both national and international levels. Implementing online promotions through social networking sites allows brands to reach consumers right across the globe, and that’s where the control becomes paramount.
Facebook currently has approximately 200 million active users and Myspace in excess of 70 million. By captivating this immense social mass, the potential opportunities for online promotions to succeed are infinite as indeed are the opportunities to fail.
Imagine the further damage the Hoover free flights promotion, launched back in 1992, would have suffered if social networks were around then.
Beware of online corruption:
There are many online consumers, bloggers and social networkers on a mission to corrupt and exploit online promotions. By plagiarising vouchers, manipulating the terms and conditions and then distributing out to networks, they can easily hijack online campaigns.
Creating computer generated entries for instant wins, can fast spiral out of control and cost companies far more both in commercial and brand image damage. Brands therefore need to make sure they are fully aware of the potential risks and administer processes to manage them.
Since there are approximately 171 million bloggers worldwide, techniques such as WOM and viral marketing have now become so ubiquitous, it is quite apparent that the consumer is fast taking control.
Also, as stipulated in the recent Digital Britain interim report, there will be a significantly higher number of UK consumers online, due to a stronger focus being placed on higher access speeds, so the potential for online fraud will just escalate further.
Implement stringent terms and conditions:
As the digital industry innovates and the potential risk for online exploitation increases further, brand’s digital strategies need to incorporate preventative measures in all their digital communications particularly the terms and conditions, which are the rules of engagement that allow a brand to keep control of its consumers.
To combat the escalating problems of online promotional corruption, SMP created a ‘Fair Play Clause’ as part of new terms and conditions for online promotional campaigns. This new clause is designed to protect brands against tech cheats, rogue bloggers and social networkers by stating that they can legally disassociate themselves (and disqualify entrants )if they believe they have not entered in the spirit of the campaign.
Overall, brands are fast capitalising on the power of social networking to engage with consumers. From Pizza Express’s prevalent 2 for 1 meal voucher, to money off vouchers from various retailers, the industry at large is taking full advantage in the current climate.
However on the flip side, since consumers are far more technically savvy, they often interact virtually to discuss campaign loopholes in order to cash in on the great giveaways offered by careless promoters. As a result, brands need to be aware of this manipulative environment, and take urgent precautionary measures as a direct result.
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