Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Digital Marketing has shifted the customers' expectations for companies to address Social Issues that affect them.
Slavery is part of Trinidad's history. From Christopher Columbus to women putting harmful chemicals in their hair to look 'presentable'. We've adopted social norms based on our ancestors, which was their way of survival in a world where black people were a commodity. The way how we cook, express emotion and money management can all be traced to a past of oppression. Although the Black Lives Matter hashtag came from the USA, it's a global reminder to what persons of colour have endured for centuries.
The recording of George Floyd's murder was a horrific reminder of the Institutional Racism that exists, and Social Media spurred the movement that followed. Trevor Noah has a better take on it, as he explained the domino effect, from COVID-19 to the Karen's of the world. More than ever, we're connected by equality of media on popular networks like Twitter and Facebook, because mainstream news doesn't give us the whole story. The mood of the world has changed from surviving the pandemic to anger towards injustice.
As the Black Lives Matter hashtags dominate our newsfeed, Trinidad brands are feeling the urge to be part of the trend. They are reaching for relevance on the subject because there is pressure to be vocal or be complicit. This ultimatum can push businesses in a grey area or worse; be viewed as racists. Digital Strategy plays a vital role in online brand management. Here are three key observations:
All Brands DO NOT Matter
Do you remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? It was a viral conversation that brought awareness to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and increased donations to an incurable disease. Brands and Celebrities participated across the globe and right here in Trinidad and Tobago. Although it was for a good cause, where is the Call to Action in a local context, it's six years later, and there are hundreds of articles sharing an insight to the 115 million dollars raised for the American Charity, but no information from Trinidad and Tobago. Many brands are fighting to be part of a global conversation, instead of doing the research and localizing their content. Following trends is the lowest hanging fruit of Social Media Marketing. Before joining the discussion, please ask yourself, how can my business contribute? Sometimes you don't need to be part of the trend.
Going Beyond the Trend
The best way to be relevant is to listen. It's that easy! The American Marketing Association defines Marketing as "…the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers…" Businesses in Trinidad and Tobago struggle with presenting value to their audience. Society is inundated with American content on their newsfeed, which drives the local conversation, neglecting the Social Issues that directly affect their customer. You need to look at the data within your Social Media platforms and use the insights to create targeted content. When we try to reach everyone, we touch no one.
Truth is the Best Crisis Management
Don't cry over split Tea. Your company has a Public Relations disaster to manage, what should you do? Contrary to popular belief, humans are a forgiving species. Everyone makes mistakes, and your company is no exception. We're in the information age, and the internet always wins. If you delete, block or retract, you are guilty. From the moment you click publish, there is no turning back. The best way to recover from a mistake is to apologize and assign an action. If you're a small business without a Public Relations team, use video. Look straight in the camera, apologise and use your words to identify where you went wrong, what you've learnt and the next steps.
One of the critical takeaways is that Social Media goes beyond pretty photos and trendy conversations. It's a tool that connects your customers to your brand. Business owners need to understand the benefits and responsibilities associated with building a brand online. I hope that companies don't retreat from the conversation, but they learn from the data and do better.
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