Social Media Marketing – Graffiti Communication?

Social Media Marketing – Graffiti Communication?

February 8th, 2013 // 10:20 am @

 

Social-MediaOver recent years the marvel of Social Media Marketing has been talked about, written about and promoted more than any other marketing trend. To listen to its exponents it has changed marketing completely and made all other marketing obsolete.

On the back of this Facebook is worth $68,000,000,000 and Twitter over $9,000,000,000 despite never having made any money.

As with many new ideas it has been oversold, and is being driven more by the herd effect, of everyone wanting to be seen to be doing it than its commercial results. Very few Marketing VP’s have the courage to say Social Media is not important to their business.

Therefore every company now must have its Facebook and Twitter pages regardless of whether they have any business impact.

It is important to stop and ask what social media actually is, and what its benefits and limitations are. Simply it allows people to communicate whatever they want, to whatever group they want, instantly, and without cost or geographical limitation.

The nature of what consumers post to social media is what we care about, that is why they bother. It can even be done anonymously; we are therefore probably more honest than we would be face to face, where we would be judging the reaction of our words.

It is social graffiti, not in a negative sense, but because we do it primarily because we care and want to express ourselves about whatever issue we choose to share via social media. This is one of the key strengths of Social Media and one of its limitations; we will tweet about our favorite sport, but not about what toilet role we use.

In a commercial world for some organizations this is a powerful tool, for others it is probably of little use, but for all it can be a dangerous place.

What Social Marketing allows is:

  • A new advertizing medium for companies, with the advantage of being able to send specific adverts, to specific users based on ones knowledge of them. This is and will be more and more important as the technology moves forward. As of now it has limitations, I am being bombarded with tailored ads for a specific flight I researched, based on my web history, what they have missed is I have booked the flight and therefore this advertizing is now pointless.

The limitation to this form of marketing in the longer term will be how much information we are as consumers prepared to share, whether we limit this by avoiding web sites we know sell our data, or whether we push our governments to limit the collection of data, the basis of this form of marketing is linked to the quality of the data that can be collected, and our willingness to share that information. Too few companies are being honest about the benefits to us of sharing our information with them.
Amazon has actually been honest with its consumers and will share the purchases you have made that it is using for its recommendations, and you can delete those that are not relevant, such as gifts for others.
This is a very sensible step to making the recommendations relevant to us, and being honest that this is what they are doing and showing the consumer the benefit of providing information, this builds a solid relationship with the consumer where they understand the benefit to them of providing information.

  • Consumer to company feedback. Many organizations are deliberately trying to encourage and trawl social media for feedback on their products. This is good in that more people will give feedback via social media than will contact a company directly.

The reality however that this feedback is public, and if consumers are dissatisfied with a company or a product that information can roll around the world in hours. Even inaccurate information can spread in hours and is impossible to control. Twice in recent years social media has reported Nelson Mandela dead, and this has rushed around the world and even been reported on news channels, even though it is obviously not true. This level of communication can be very dangerous.

  • Consumer to consumer communication is probably the most powerful part of social media. Simply consumers around the world can communicate instantly on whatever subject they choose, and the commercial impact can be huge.

This new easy consumer-to-consumer communication will tend to aid smaller organizations with great products.

Those things we care about when we buy, the things that support our passions we can now research easily, and buy from anywhere in the world. For example if you are a lover of cricket it is easy to get user feedback to tell you the best cricket bat in the world, and you can buy it from wherever it is in the world all via the Internet, historically this level of communication was simply not possible.

The opposite is also true, if your product is not good, previously if you were market leader that was not necessarily commercially critical, now it is. The weaknesses in your product will be communicated around the world more quickly than you can control.

Social Media can be a powerful tool, for some organizations, and of less use for others, the keys to using it successfully are:

  • Strategically what are you trying to achieve and does Social Media fit into that?
  • Accept the reality of what Social Media is, with the massive power of consumer-to-consumer communication. With all the potential risks and rewards that brings.
  • Work out how to use Social Media in your business in new ways that suit the media. For example General Motors pulled advertizing from Facebook, as it did not aid selling cars they said. Ford gave high users of social media their latest car to test, and then to talk about online, building hopefully consumer endorsement. GM was using Social Media as they would old media, Ford used it with understanding of its power and how it worked.
  • Resource it properly. Social Media is not something you can update twice a week, you need dedicated staff with clear goals working on it continuously, a tweet that is a few hours old is simply irrelevant.

Social Media Marketing has been over sold and the herd mentality has led to too many people rushing into it. That said if you can really understand how it fits your business model it could be a very powerful tool.

Possibly the way to view it is like putting every customer you have in a room with every potential customer and letting them talk about you.

Powerful of Scary?

 

 


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