Instant feedback abundance
Social media has many advantages compared to traditional marketing channels such as distributing printed matter, advertising in magazines, or even launching various informative one-way information web pages.
One of the advantages that does not really come with any downsides is the almost automatic way in which we can follow up and analyze the effect of our marketing messages. Who has seen it, how many have interacted and what they think is visible in the number of likes, shares, retweets and comments we receive. The feedback is instant and for all to see. The ways in which we can put this feedback into use is immense. We just need to grab the data and put it into use; Set targets, compare results, find variables that make the difference in the messages’ power to attract attention and give the result we want.
In the old days, we put a lot of resources into tedious market analyses, following up advertising and conducting surveys.
Those efforts are not as crucial anymore, at least not in the big picture.
The challenge is to relocate those resources into handling the feedback abundance our social media messages are generating.
Virtually unlimited audiences
Another huge advantage is the potential reach. In traditional marketing, the audience was the readers of a certain magazine we advertised in, or the contact network of a specific sales person receiving a brochure. With social media, we can, with a good image, a few well thought out words, and a strong marketing message, put into a well-timed post, reach literally millions of people in just one click.
New challenges in the whole organization
The fast pace in the dialogue that is social media marketing, and the wide target group we address, naturally changes the way we work with marketing in our daily work.
To keep up with online marketing we need fast and short decision chains, an effective and versatile communication team who are able to produce relevant contents fast and we need the input from the rest of the organization to be clear and quick. In many cases it might be necessary not only to reshape responsibilities but also adapt parts of the organisation in order to provide enough resources.
The final result needs to be suitable for all audiences, everywhere, forcing the brand to have one united face outwards. Something that was not obvious in past times, with separate tailor-made marketing messages for each market and each target group of stakeholders.
However, marketing on social media also has its element of tailoring. Each social media platform has its own language; something that works on Facebook is not necessarily applicable on linkedin or Instagram.
We, as communicators need to unite our messages to work worldwide but also to be fluent in the various languages of the different social media platforms.
No safety net on social media
The “publish” button is relentless. Once it is out there, there’s no telling how far your message will travel. With this in mind, we need to be prepared and ready to make the right decisions to keep our reliability as a successful brand.
Anyone is free to praise, or criticize your brand or product in the commentary section. This is of course a scary thought at first. The feeling of putting your brand out there, at risk and in plain sight for competitors, retractors and promotors alike. However, it can also be an opportunity, if you use it the right way.
In his article How Social Media Has Changed Marketing,* Sudheer Kiran writes about how the successful brands use social media to keep up the brand image by keeping a tab on social conversations within the brand page and resolving the problems faced by clients.
“The attention to concerns, swifter response, and customer satisfaction are the key part of brand building exercise.”
Since the dialogue with the users is visible to the public, it serves as proof to the public that the brand is trustworthy.
Again, we need to find the resources to carefully monitor our social media channels 24/7 making sure to represent the brand in a professional way. To have a badly monitored Facebook page with low response rates is worse for the brand image, than not having one at all.
Social platforms are consumer territory
The role of the brand is also changing. On social media the consumers set the pace and the code of conduct. Consumers actively research the brand before a purchase to check out the reliability of the brand. According to Mike Tortorice in his article How Has Technology Changed Traditional Marketing ** on infront.com 81% of shoppers research online before making a purchase.
The number might not be as high for B2B consumers, it seems, however that the practices of using social media in our private life for purchases and social contacts is increasingly “leaking” into our professional lives. We tend to keep professional conversations on social platforms and look into the brands we come in contact with at work in the same channels we use privately. The line between our personal lives and professional lives appears to be thinning out.
In her article “How Social Media Is Changing Advertising–for Better and Worse” Mary C Long writes: “Consumers want brands to be accessible–and accommodating–when they have a problem. The rest of the time they want them to “be cool” and not try so hard to win over their audience.”
The effect on our day to day marketing tasks, is to use a more subtle and steady marketing strategy. Gone are the days when we could pound the product advertisement into the customers head repeatedly, hammer-to-head style, and hope to get the sales.
Keeping the above in mind; our new marketing strategy could be: to be present and be the best and first whenever the customer makes that active online enquiry.
*How social media has changed marketing
Sudheer Kiran, March 22, 2017
** How Has Technology Changed Traditional Marketing
Mike Tortorice, Feb 9, 2017
***How social media is changing advertising for better and worse
Mary C Long, December 12, 2016