Further to my last post about Woolies, it seems that despite them embracing social media, what they are delivering is still quite an old school approach.
Users of the Woolworths site have been encouraged to post suggestions on the ‘Your Questions’ section of the site. They almost always seem to recieve the robotic answer ‘I’m afraid it’s too early to say whether we will be stocking these’ – so far. Hmm not very satisfying for the person who has posted and not a very encouraging approach.
A current theme in social media for brands, is quite rightly, about social media being just that – social: a conversation, a two-way conversation, requiring input from both sides and valuable input. So far, it seems either a badly planned or missed opportunity for Woolworths. The audience could quite easily switch off from being these Über-exuberant Woolies fans (didn’t we used to call them brand advocates. Or aren’t they simply word-of-mouth champions?).
In my opinion brands need to get involved and own their social media space, but only where there is a strategy in place to start with. It needs planning. Not just doing. There are many ways a brand can approach social media, but a half-hearted attempt at any of them is worse than doing nothing at all.
For example, Woolworths could have chosen to take the approach that they would use the site for stimulus for discussion, but that they would not actually take part in that discussion. Not until they were ready. Unfortunately, by creating a question and answer page, they have also created the expectation of reactive listening. You expect you will get an answer and a satisfactory one at that.
I really liked Fallon’s blog post about Twitter which makes a similar point about Twitter and having a clear, well-planned strategy in place, before brands engage.