June 21, 2013

PR4415: Monitoring Report for Nike

With social media becoming an ever-growing form of communication between a company and its consumers, it is important for a company to understand the various social platforms and how to use them to its utmost advantage. Let's take a look at how Nike is using Facebook.

By taking an overall glance at the Nike Facebook page, it is obvious that Nike does not understand how useful social media could be to the brand. Scrolling down three months on its timeline, every post from the company is some sort of advertisement featuring either its products or its sponsored athletes. The only post humanizing the brand in any way is a status shared from the Nike Running Facebook page on April 17 concerning the Boston Marathon bombing:

Social media is a powerful tool and can help a company build a trusting relationship with its consumers. In the current days of information overload, it is crucial for a brand to connect with the public and become more than a company selling a product. In between the advertisements and endorsements, it would be nice to see interaction between Nike and its Facebook fans. Posing questions and participating in discussions on statuses and photos would show that Nike not only cares about turning out excellent products, but also it would show that Nike is interested in who is buying its products and that it cares about the athletic world.

Nike's most recent cover photo (pictured above) only further shows that Nike is out of touch with its consumers. After seeing little activity on the timeline, there was hope that Nike may be interacting with the people through comments. This wasn't the case. In the comments on the photo of Rafa Nadal, a professional Spanish tennis player, roughly 34% of the comments were not related to him or the sport of tennis at all. After reading 238 comments, only 157 comments mentioned the athlete while the other 81 comments were about the brand itself, a recent issue in Cambodia, and spam.

No comments from Nike were found in the comment thread, and many of the comments were not in English. Though it is good that Nike has become a global brand, the lack of communication and "bridging the gap" of language barriers shows consumers that Nike isn't interested in connecting sports fans. This is not the best image for a globally recognized brand to have. Also, the wide variety of comments on a single photo shows that consumers do not have a way to communicate with Nike through Facebook. Where many company fan pages provide a way for consumers to post directly to the company's timeline, Nike doesn't have this option. This leaves people to leave irrelevant comments on photos, which leaves Nike's page cluttered and not consumer-friendly. Add to that Nike's lack of responses, and it seems as though Nike's Facebook page is barely monitored.

While reading through the photo comments, there were a handful of comments concerning this issue in Cambodia about hundreds of factory workers losing their jobs for participating in a legal strike. Below are some of those comments:

The Huffington Post article was published on June 11, but there is no mention of the issue on Nike's Facebook page. With consumers mentioning it in photo comments, it is something that Nike should be addressing rather than ignoring. Nike could be using Facebook to keep this crisis from becoming bigger. Its consumers want answers, and Facebook could be a great way for Nike to explain itself and to show that it is still a good company with good ethics and values. However, ignoring the topic and allowing consumers to post comments without receiving a response is giving people the impression that Nike just doesn't care.

So what should Nike do?
Here is a list of suggestions for Nike on how to improve its presence on Facebook:

  1. Be interactive and reachable. Consumers like social media because it gives them a way to communicate directly with the brands they love. Nike should encourage more discussion on Facebook by "becoming human." Post statuses asking questions. Post photos of the behind-the-scenes work. Consumers see and hear advertisements all day long; they want something different when they get on Facebook. Give them a way to engage with the brand.
  2. Allow people to comment on the timeline. Along with being more personable, Nike needs to allow consumers to voice their opinions on its timeline. Disabling this option could be Nike's way to minimize negativity, but avoiding concerns and complaints doesn't solve the problem. People want answers, and they want to feel like they are being heard. Giving the consumers an option to create their own post without worrying about it getting lost in a thread would show that Nike cares and wants to help.
  3. Respond, respond, respond! Along with allowing people to post to the timeline, respond to those people in a timely manner. If someone complains about a product, Nike needs to give an explanation. If someone gives an excellent review, Nike should show its appreciation. Part of being interactive and reachable is responding to consumers. Currently, Nike isn't doing this at all, but they most certainly need to start.
  4. Monitor the spam. The last thing a consumer wants to see when they visit a company's Facebook page is a bunch of spam. It is an obvious sign that the company isn't really available through its page. To show the consumers that Nike has a presence on Facebook, the brand needs to constantly monitor the spam people leave. It doesn't take much to delete a comment, and spam is definitely something that needs to be removed.
  5. Be global. And last but not least, with so many comments in languages other than English, Nike needs to show that they truly are a global brand. When hiring people to monitor and run the Facebook page, Nike should be looking for people who are fluent in other languages. For non-English speaking consumers, this kind of attention would show that Nike truly cares about its people and wants to be available to them.
*This post and research were done for a public relations in social media class at Kennesaw State University.

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