These days the three words you are most likely to see in the headlines of your CNN online coverage or your weekly business magazine is either ‘Social Media’, ‘Indonesia’, or ‘Boom’. With more than 43 million Facebook accounts and 19 million active Twitter users, Indonesia boasts the second highest number of social media users in Asia.
And if you think these three words have grown so phenomenally that they risk being overused, you would have gotten the wrong idea – at least that is not the perception most Indonesian marketers hold.
Over time, Indonesian marketers have grown more avid on this social media marketing concept. They believe that branding their products right toward the target audience’s playground is the most effective way to bring about real actions. They start hiring their own ‘social media specialist’. They advertise heavily on Facebook and create many interactive communication schemes that they hope would boost consumer experience to the maximum level. They are driven by two tantalizing adjectives: ‘word-of-mouth’ and ‘viral’.
Increasingly, more Indonesians are getting their news from what they see on their Facebook timeline. They get updates and information about events and things happening around their lives simply by scrolling down their Twitter pages. They also follow certain brands’ social media accounts as they want people to see them being associated with those brands. But after the initial Facebook ‘Like’, just how many of them really come back and regularly check-in? Do they actually submit their answers on the ‘Fun Personality Quiz’ available on the brand’s account? Recently, a brand of feminine wash with over 80,000 Facebook ‘Likes’ which posted a voucher-based sales promotion managed to get only three clicking the ‘Like’ button. Yes, three.
Popularity does not always equal profitability. Marketers endlessly search for, and adopt, new platforms to reach their consumers. But, the investment may not rewarded with clear and demonstrable ROIs. Yet the fact that no one has overthrown Facebook’s number one position in the top five websites visited by Indonesians, combined with the considerably easier (and cheaper) kind of investment this social media channel offers is simply blocking their minds from exploring new alternatives and other media.
Social media has to be managed properly or it can become the brand’s double-edged sword. Once launched, full commitment is needed. The marketer needs to actively create relevant content and interaction that give the consumers an advantage; while consistently keeping to the brand’s central idea. And, the marketer needs to communicate in a way that their target audience will perceive them as being human. The marketer needs to sound as friendly and approachable as they can. Because after all, this is a social media – not a one-way TV commercial.
When combined with the renowned Indonesians’ highly collectivist characteristic, marketers also need to realize that social media, in essence, is the place for people to express their thoughts to their own network, communicate with their peers, collect useful information from their opinion leaders and even show off their newest haircut to their colleagues. The attention conduit is jam-packed. Without content that guarantees relevant (and positive) consumer experience, any brand’s off-the-cuff or half-attempts at social media may bring more harm than good.