Rise of Social Media in Marketing

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2495 , Published on 26 March 2014

In today’s competitive environment, every brand/business wants to keep socially well connected and engaged so that the potential to sell products will get effectively limitless. But, there is no blanket strategy to achieve the same; marketing techniques once used have gotten obsolete, thus necessitating continuous evolution catering to the demands of the present. Well now, an innovative and a new marketing channel with the potential to rival television for its importance has arrived and marketers are starting to take notice. Yes it is the Social media, a continually evolving realm with amazing potential to cater to the business communication needs.

Social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. It includes the magazines, different websites including the social networks, blogs etc. Off late internet-based social media has been in wide use to make connections with friends, family, customers and clients for social purposes, business purposes or both. Examples of social networking include websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Classmates.com and Yelp etc. These networks have become the prime target area for marketers seeking to engage users thus involving in ‘Social media marketing’. In this form of marketing, the brands or businesses make efforts to create website traffic, conversions, brand awareness, brand identity and communicate with key audiences. Since branding is all about knowing people and relating to them, businesses small or big, are turning to social media marketing websites to build visibility for their brands. It helps understand behaviour identification and response challenge

Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net, jannoon028

 From building a social army to battle against Monsanto to catering to B2B or B2C companies, social media has already proved its potential in reaching, engaging and conversion of users to customers. According to a recent study from Marketing Profs, 87% of B2B marketers use social media platforms in their content marketing efforts. Of the 13 tactics proposed from the content marketing arsenal, social media emerges the most popular and this trend is pushing upward. Approximately 46 percent of “business leaders” said they plan to increase their social media budgets in 2014, according to a survey by Strong View, a marketing solutions provider.

Since, it is no more a question if one should use the social media for marketing; it is only how well one could execute the strategy. It can be tempting to jump right into all the social media sites out there and start posting. But there can start the downfall as building a social presence isn't necessarily costly, but effective social programs require significant time investments to build a team that is willing and able to dedicate adequate time to capture the requirements of social media endeavours. Before the first nugget of social marketing content is published, one needs to understand the components of a business and how they work together, where profits come from and create a branding and social media marketing plan that will drive profits. One should form a set of goals and metrics to ensure that all resources are well utilized.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are daily destinations for millions of consumers. Increasingly, their ad products offer targeting according to specific demographics, social connections, interests, and habits. This helps the marketing agencies to do a better, faster and smarter segmentation and customize their approaches based on the target group and their interests. Also Social networks have enormous user databases which enables brands offer a uniquely captive audience for their content.

More than ever before, the idea of branding has now become more personal. For the entrepreneurial professional, it has become critical. With social media tools, one’s personal brand will become more aligned to one’s professional brand. Knowing this and leveraging these brands together can make a huge difference. Also social media would allow to extend the current brand as one serving a specific demographic.

Even though Social Media advertising is a young market and represents a very less percent (2% – 10%) of the ad budgets, there is a significant opportunity for the brands to make themselves visible through Social Media, thus the share might increase in the coming years.

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However, before plunging into the Social media for marketing, knowing the customers and the use of social media platforms by the target audience is very important else it is unlikely that social media will ever have any effect or success. Platforms used by customers or clients looking for different products or services are different, for example it would be easy to find a human resource with a specified technical skill on LinkedIn portal. It is also equally important to ensure interesting and realistic content be published, as this forms the basis for communication to draw larger audience or potential customers and varies widely from a B2B to a B2C companies also. Leveraging the content can help elevate the customer base in a dramatic way. If one gets on their radar, one could put the business in front of a huge new customer base through word of mouth or other forms of media.

Publishing, managing the content, reviewing the comments and analysing the data is a whole process that needs focus at each step and at times necessitates interference from professionals called analysts who specialize in analysing the big data to cater to the needs of business that involve in social media marketing.

Having taken care at each level of planning and executing, it is important to calculate the Return on Investment. Probably, it is difficult to measure it precisely; but it is an important measure to access the success of social media marketing.

This article has been authored by Vani from IIM Calcutta






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