12/11/2014 04:53 GMT | Updated 09/01/2015 05:59 GMT

Don't Ruin Facebook Rooms With Branded Chat Rooms

Social media was once seen as a chatter by many organisations back in 2009 and they resisted change; until they realised they have no power against change. This attitude costed many talented practitioners time and their job, simply because brands always wanted to hear what they wanted to hear; not necessarily what they should hear. Listening is a major component of success and brand sustainability.

Almost 12 years on, many still believe social media is in its infancy; despite the fact that social media is as old as the earth. Needless to say brands such as KLM, Kit Kat and Innocent Drinks are prime examples of social media best practice. These brands created communities where everyone is valued; and those brands that constantly worry about ROI and busy finding "influencers" have a lot to learn from these three brands.

Brands and their respective agencies keep talking about influencer targeting and marketing and getting things done for free; music to directors and investors ears. But this is the biggest mistake they've been making for years. If you are going to get things done for free; be prepared to face bad reputation and loss of revenue in the years to come. Unless you really don't care about the future of your business and career. Transparency is no longer a buzzword, if it is not part of your personality and everyday actions; you may better start changing before forced to change by your customers, prospects, suppliers and the society as a whole.

This is particularly true in the digital and social media age we live in; days that give you no chance to twist the truth because everyone is savvy. Your audience has audience and everyone is a citizen journalist:

- Almost 50,000 apps are downloaded to smartphones every minute

- Over 100 billion Likes on Facebook every month

- Every 60 minutes, there are 6,000 new LinkedIn accounts created

- 500 million tweets sent everyday

- Over 200 million E-mails are sent every minute

- 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds

- 40 million Vine users


Thus, PR professionals and agencies may wish to revisit their strategies for communications and building brand loyalty and equity; and that calls for more creativity and commitment. Crowd-sourcing and asking bloggers to create you content based on your briefs is so old fashion; today is all about storytelling and chats. What matters the most to people these days is meaningful and relevant exposure; they don't buy from salespeople. In a nutshell the way business should be conducted is changed; and resisting change is not appropriate. Brands need more than just being everywhere and everything for everyone; they need to be relevant and respect their customers privacy.

Every time, a new social media channel or an app emerged, many businesses jumped in there to market their product and services; and this is wrong. Many brands started using Vine back in 2013 to promote their business, now they use the medium less often; good! At least individuals have a chance to entertain without brands disturbing their fun.

Instagram is now being experimented by brands, mainly fashion and beauty; but in form of advertising. Most people simply press the hide button; no brand has yet mentioned anything about the ROI there. It will be interesting to see a report or a case study about use of Instagram ads. Of course there are so many other channels and apps to discuss about and even have a debate. However the latest and most talked about one is Facebook Rooms which indeed proves the importance and influence of chats on creating and leading conversations.

Social media as we know it today started as chat rooms and even when likes of Facebook and Twitter picked up momentum; people started having chats on the channels which led to creation of hashtags. Brands are now planning on how they can create their own branded chatrooms on Facebook Rooms. This is going to be another mistake, because Rooms meant to allow people to have conversations amongst themselves and not to get "branded content".

If brands want to really engage with their customers, they may wish to start replying to emails faster, reducing customer time spent on the phone and possibly instead of using premium telephone numbers for customer service offering free phone numbers. As Facebook Rooms is an additional layer to Facebook, brands may wish to let people enjoy this newly designed feature; but of course monitor for their reputation management purposes. Brands maybe better off by effectively and systematically managing their current presence on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and answering queries in a timely fashion. If brands want to run chats, the best place for them to be in is on Twitter and own their Twitter Chat even and as Gary Vaynerchuck always says: don't ignore the guy with 200 followers.