New social network www.croking.com aims to bring people and brands together by offering consumers a dedicated social space in which to make their opinions heard, discussed and directed at the brands they are either pleased or displeased with. As with most social networks, users must create a profile (linked up with their email or Facebook account) and then have the choice to address a @brand with their 300-character comments, signaling whether it is positive or negative. Other users have the opportunity to respond, share and agree or disagree with the user’s comment, allowing for social interaction and some gamification as the number of interactions dictates your place on Croke’s ‘newsfeed’. The same goes for the brands, as the more positive comments or ‘fans’ they have (or responses to comments they give), the better their ranking on the network.
Whilst Croke is in its infancy (launched only a few weeks ago), the idea has already attracted a lot of positive response, especially since the admin on the site are leading by example with speedy responses to user’s questions and comments. Nevertheless, some users have pointed out that by giving their opinion freely to brands, they may also help them to cut the cost, and perhaps depth of their market research. One user wrote, “If I’m going to give a brand market intelligence & feedback, I want to get paid for it. Every comment on here is given for free, but it’s worth money.” However, this opinion seems to be in the minority and if the site improves customer service in the long run, then the benefits could outweigh perceived negatives.
Looking at this from a marketing perspective, many brands have dedicated a social media team, or an agency which manages their social media presence on the main networks such as Facebook, Twitter & YouTube. Using a dedicated social network which is built specifically to facilitate open communication with companies should aid these teams, offering a quantifiable way of seeing how people view different or competing brands. Whether this network will be successful remains to be seen, especially since it depends on whether brands take it seriously. One thought though is that if brands don’t engage, a lot of negative comments could be shared on other, larger social networks, which in turn may force brands to use the service, even if they would prefer not to.