Marketing Society: The Forum - Should Brands Play an Active Role in Policing Social Networks?

Marketing, September 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Marketing Society: The Forum - Should Brands Play an Active Role in Policing Social Networks?


The public is becoming more vocal about expressing its disapproval of brands that are associated with unacceptable content online.

MAYBE - CELIA PRONTO, MARKETING AND ECOMMERCE DIRECTOR, FORD RETAIL GROUP @celiapronto

As with any crucial supplier relationship, as brand owners we need to satisfy ourselves that the partners we choose to work with are aligned with our brand's positioning.

In the course of any due diligence process, including media-owner, channel and programme selection, questions regarding fairness and equality are usually considered. This should be no different for social networks.

Assuming social networks satisfy the criteria of what a brand considers appropriate, and are able to satisfy us that there are procedures in place to ensure compliance, it should not be our role to police the social networks themselves.

However, in this era of increasing consumer power, with advocacy more important than ever, it is important for us as brand-owners to listen to what consumers are saying within these spaces, so that we can take appropriate action when required.

YES - JEMIMA BIRD, COMMERCIAL AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, MOSS BROS GROUP @jpd26

In a world where brands encourage conversations with consumers, and touchpoints across multiple channels are the norm, it is not feasible for brands to bury their heads in the sand on issues of importance.

Brands are embedding themselves deeper into people's lives, so it is imperative to take responsibility for how they feature online.

Free and open speech is important, but bullying, trolling and illegal activities are not acceptable and it is the responsibility of marketers to ensure their brands are not associated with this type of behaviour.

Simple published rules and guidelines allow offensive materials to be removed - it's not about hiding conversations we don't like, but removing the voice of those who don't follow acceptable behaviours.

Online is a wonderful opportunity to build relationships with consumers Sometimes, however, it's best to file for divorce.

YES - FIONA MCANENA, PARTNER, CLEARHOUND @fionamcanena

A brand reputation is built on what that brand says and does, and, in part, on the company it keeps. An edgy, libertarian brand may welcome controversy, and should be happy with the polarised response it provokes.

That's what brand positioning is about. Most brands aren't that edgy, though - and in any case, few would want to be seen condoning really nasty behaviour, even if it's not illegal. Any brand that stands for something must have a point of view - it's brand, not bland. Doing nothing is not an option. So it's inevitable that, in protecting their own position, many brands are forced to take sides.

Mostly it's done in self-interest, not because they are public-spirited or helping make our world a better place - that's just another kind of bland corporate-speak. The outcome is the same, though: brands can and do shape our world.

NO - JAMIE ELLIOTT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DLKW LOWE @thejamieelliott

Yes, brands should do more good; have a set of values that make them better, more responsible citizens. …

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Marketing Society: The Forum - Should Brands Play an Active Role in Policing Social Networks?
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