nicoleInteractive social marketing is often a valuable tool for brands. When done right, it can bring positive attention to a brand, cultivate brand loyalty, and make the customers a part of the brand story. However, if not done with skill, interactive marketing can also backfire on a brand by actively harming the brand’s reputation or making them the butt of jokes. It is important to know when an interactive marketing campaign would be beneficial to a brand’s success, and when it would be useless or just backfire. There are three questions marketers should ask before deciding to implement interactive social marketing.

1) How does the public already view our organization?

Is your company’s reputation negative? Does your company do work that is controversial, especially among demographics who use social media? Is your company currently dealing with a scandal? All of these are situations that affect the way the public views a company. In these situations, it is easy for an interactive campaign to backfire tremendously. Instead of receiving praise and support, a campaign can receive scorn, sarcasm and anger from the public. Take for example the campaign #AutismSpeaks10.  Meant to be a 10 year celebration of the controversial not-for-profit Autism Speaks, the page for the hashtag was instead filled with comments from disgruntled autistic people and their loved ones. The backlash was covered by bloggers across the internet, resulting in bad publicity for that organization. Often it is best to use interactive marketing for a brand that is positively viewed.

2) How is our target market likely to respond to our marketing?

Some target markets respond to interactive marketing better than others. For example, young adults are pretty good about responding to interactive marketing, senior citizens less so. Using interactive marketing with the wrong target audience is unlikely to tarnish a brand’s reputation, but it can use up time and energy that could be better used. When looking into your target market’s use of social media and willingness to get involved with interactive marketing campaigns be honest with yourself and make sure you are not barking up the wrong tree.

3) A major part of interactive marketing is getting the consumer excited about your product.

Some products and services are not easy to build a successful interactive marketing campaign around. For example, it’s hard to get people excited about funerals, life insurance, or every day items. But some products and service are great for interactive marketing, such as those that aim for a “cult” following, such as local pizza places. Either way your market must be more than just passive consumers and must be ready to dig in.