Social Media and its Future - Impacting Communication on a whole for an Organization

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2589 , Published on 06 February 2013
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With growing technology and penetration of internet, social media has become new channel for the companies to reach the customers. With the large number of population on Internet and possibly having better purchasing power internet has become one of the most important touch points for the consumer. Social networks have given the social interactions a speed and a new concept social media marketing has emerged. Also, in this race are the growing numbers of e-commerce companies. But the biggest question in front of the organizations is how to communicate in a right way. The critical issues that some of the organizations particularly for e-business should address in this regard are: the channels to the customer, the targeted customer segments and the IT infrastructure capability needed, both internally and externally, to enable the business.

 

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Social media marketing is giving rise to many non conventional techniques over the conventional ones. The amount of value companies can get from social media can vary from industry to industry. Let us take a few examples: i) McDonald’s tied up with Zynga’s hugely popular game Farmville for a special McDonald’s farm in the game. ii) Automobile major GM stopped ads on facebook as they couldn’t really justify this marketing expenditure vis a vis the increase in footfalls in their showrooms or increase in conversions. They still decided to continue with the Facebook page though, where they could host content and engage with their prospective customers without having to pay anything to the Facebook. iii)  FMCG major HUL launched the Facebook campaign to promote its new product, Knorr Cup a Soup. The contest had a grand prize of being featured as a ‘Soup-a-Star’ on CNBC along with iPod Shuffle and all you had to do was share a story. Sites like facebook, twitter, Google+ has become a new medium to target thousands of audiences without much effort in terms of cost.

With the growing era of competition, it is very obvious that one thing that differentiates you as an organization is creating customer experience. Everyone can come up with some new innovation and organization can’t push the prices beyond a certain limit. So, the space shifts to creating customer experience and social media in this regard has become a very potent tool for the organizations. Even the service sectors such as financial sector is changing the way of their consumer interaction and are using social media both as a customer service channel and recruitment tool. Going to bank branch for a simple transaction such as balance inquiry is very frustrating. Providing customers with internet banking and mobile applications is already changing the face of banking industry. Also, Businesses are becoming more open to using the social media tools within the enterprise. File sharing, microblogging, employee profile networks, social CRM, social media based customer support are getting mainstream.

Social media is also providing a practical and affordable way to segment current and potential customers. Online tracking allows firms to learn much more about customer behavior while navigating their sites and customer purchasing pattern is helping them to make a better segmentation.

With growing use of smartphones and tablets, customers have plethora of information available at their footstep and the role of social media becomes even more prominent in this situation as the information obtained through social media can influence the buying behavior.

The challenge is how to slip through consumer social network and become relevant when they have flood of information available. According to a 2011 Nielsen report, two-thirds of survey respondents believe brands they buy from should support environmental causes. Connecting your brand with environmental sustainability can help you to expand across demographics. With consumers working in global teams and relying on the advice of friends and family, it is advisable to make your product free from traditional idea of demographics to get word-of-mouth referrals. And the things are going to be more high-tech and customer-driven. Shopping may involve simply a phone-scan app and a mobile wallet, nearly eliminating any contact with a sales associate. If you can reach one consumer in the right way, you can reach his or her entire network. To be invited into a consumer’s network, first examine your program's value proposition.

A huge problem with social media marketing is to arrive at a set of metrics to evaluate the ROI for the money spent. For an e-commerce website, it is much easier as they can just measure the quality of traffic coming to their site. But for a brick and mortar company, like GM, it becomes extremely difficult to track the conversions via online marketing. Many companies may use ‘number of likes’ as a metrics on their facebook page but sometimes just because a person likes the brand he may like the page. One possible metrics can be how many of the proportional likes got converted into posts and other such engagements. In order to develop effective respond system organizations need to develop their social media strategy very carefully that keeps them aligned to the customers requirements. So far, the Social media has proved to be a very good platform for the marketers and organizations and the future looks prominent if organization goes strategically correct. There are key elements that should be consistently present in the design of any strategy. At the core of your strategic planning for social media are consumer insights and a clear understanding of organizational objectives. Being clear on your objectives is first and foremost. If you are not sure where you are going as an organization, you won't be able to bring your customers on this journey either.

This article has been authored by Rahul Kumar from IIM Indore.


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