Fit of Social Media with Existing Marketing Strategies
Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 4062
, Published on 25 November 2011
This article is the 2nd prize winner of MBASkool Article writing contest held in November 2011
Social Media Marketing is becoming one of the most effective means of marketing. Range of companies and products leverage Social Media, especially Small and Medium businesses to enable them to compete at equal footing with the sector majors. Usually B2C companies use social media marketing. Consumers use social media to get the information, feedback and opinion of different people before buying a product.
360BuzzAds Pvt. Ltd. claims to be the first integrated Social Media Marketing engine which helps businesses monetize Social Media by growing their online user engagement. Mr. Subramanya R Jois, CEO of 360BuzzAds Pvt. Ltd. says that the number of people visiting the forum mall in Bangalore has increased from 40,000 to 60,000 on an average during the weekdays after the usage of social media marketing.
Benefits to companies using social media
1. Used to build Viral communities across Social Networks, reducing cost and time to Market.
2. Availability of Facebook on mobiles has enabled companies to reach customers more easily.
3. Companies can receive the qualitative feedback from users easily.
4. They can also leverage it to promote their products and convey any offers/discounts.
Cons of using social media
1. There are chances of customers of another product giving some negative comments or opinion about the product. That would have a very bad impact. So the companies should keep track of the negative feedback and should take action.
2. Resources should be allocated to keep track of the post and reply to the users queries.
Social Media: the game changer
Social media has provided, both existing and prospective customers a channel to voice their opinion in much more powerful way than ever. Any company trying to ignore it would risk losing market share and reputation in long run. Earlier, relation between a company and its customers were either:
1. One to Many: With companies having the higher ‘preaching’ ground and unidirectional communication through various advertising mediums
2. One to One: Mainly while addressing customers’ complaints, occasionally during promotional events
However, now with advent of social media bandwagon companies need to realize and treat social media channels as a very important complimentary channel to their existing marketing channels, which unlike others enable two way communications and hence, often perceived as a threat by many marketers who now need to be answerable and more responsible in terms of their strategies as the communication has now turned to become Many to Many.
3. Many to Many: Infact, as the following figure shows that since the world wide web has equipped customers’ with the tools and abilities to interact with each other, irrespective of geographical boundaries, companies have been forced to use the same channels to engage with the customers in a bi-directional communication, initially only to minimize the damage but now to maximize their value proposition delivery.
Reasons for using Social Media Marketing
Mary J. Culnan et al, (2010) have discussed on how firms should use social media to interact with customers and how their use varies by industry. They also stated that in order to gain benefit from social media, firms need to develop implementation strategies based on three elements: mindful adoption, community building, and absorptive capacity.
The reasons for using Facebook by companies of various sectors identified by 360BuzzAds are for Branding/awareness, Engagement, Transaction, Loyalty and Recruitment purpose.
Source : 360Buzz Ads.com
FMCG companies extensively leverage digital marketing for brand awareness. They have different pages for the different products they offer. Information on promotions, gifts and greetings are updated frequently. Videos, pictures and Store locator facility of the product are shared in their page. Loyal users of the brand create communities which help in viral marketing.
Few brand pages look beyond brand awareness. They engage with the customers by conducting surveys, quizzes and polls to find the expectations from the customers. Some of them also reward the users for these events. They appoint a person to answer all the queries of the user which can happen through text or video chat. For example in Apollo hospital Facebook page people used to query the availability of the doctors. This brings an attachment and satisfaction of the customer towards the product/service.
Companies also use Facebook for the transaction purpose. Customers can buy the goods directly from the link provided in Facebook. The transaction will take them to the payment gateway where they can pay for the product. This is very mostly used by the retail companies. Sometimes exclusive discounts are offered for Facebook customers. There are few products that cannot be sold online via Facebook like baby foods and supplements, medicines and liquor due to the regulatory norms. So the companies selling these products can only use Facebook for awareness and not for transaction.
Companies were found to encourage loyalty amongst their existing customers or signalling benefits amongst potential customers by giving special discount, some meant for Facebook users only, on the basis of number of purchase and for inviting their friends to join the page. To further reward loyal behaviour and continuous following some companies maintain leader boards, with leaders determined through their contribution to discussions and participation in contests, etc.
Now companies have started uploading the job notifications on the Facebook page. People also use this medium to enquire about the job requirements and vacancy. Summer interns and new joinees query about their joining date and posting location.
Tools used by companies to analyse the inputs from Social Media
Tools like Twitter Sentiment are used to find the positive and negative sentiment of people commenting on a particular topic in Twitter. This will help companies to track the negative sentiments and work on it to resolve it.
Twitter Sentiment for Apollo
Social Mention is another website that provides statistics related to use of a keyword on various social media platforms, similar to ‘Google Alerts’ but more focused. A snapshot of the website is shown below with the search term ‘Apollo’ and associated statistics on various social media platforms:
Social Mention for search on Apollo
On one hand Social media (specifically Facebook) provides great opportunity for Small and Medium businesses primarily to increase their reach, on other hand it could be perilous too if not properly managed. Establishing presence on Social media and announcing its products would not only suffice for a company but it would also have continuously monitor the on-going dialogue between its existing and potential customers. This could also improve companies’ perception in terms of customer service, garnering positive mentions and corresponding network effects through the social networks of a customer.
To conclude a check-list of Do’s and Don’ts, especially useful for budding companies trying to gain foothold but equally valid for established ones:
•Define your target customer segment and develop a communication strategy with proper tones
•Develop a style of interaction matching the brand personality one wants to project
•Define level of moderation
•Use all the possible & relevant applications available as each can enhance or affect one of the five parameters discussed earlier
•Try to create apps/games specific to your brand/product, increasing their attractiveness
•Focus on loyalty building measures, a part often neglected by many
•Keep the sales pitch subtle with more emphasis on ‘Engagement’ to influence customers purchasing decisions
•Use Social media for corporate communication purposes – it is not the right platform to find and address relevant audience, and it will alienate the end customers who usually doesn’t have an interest in this
•Forget to regularly update the content and come up with ideas to keep customers engaged with your brand/product
•Try to thwart a dissenting customer by engaging in a duel of words or trying to discredit/malign his or her image as this could disenchant other users from actively participating due to fear of similar actions
•Use same page to communicate about different product segments with possibly different customer segments; create separate product pages in such cases rather than one single brand page
•Varying the aim of communication with different Social media channels which is perceived differently and cause a scattered brand image projection.
This article has been authored by Sangeetha K from IIM Bangalore
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