The Article is authored by Saiprasad Sale from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai and is the Second prize winner of December article writing contest conducted by Marketing Bloggers.
“We don’t have a choice whether we DO social media marketing, the question is HOW WELL we DO it”
Till now, the world was exposed to television ads, print ads, seasonal discounts and many other marketing tactics, for one thing…Sale. In this process, some-how the term Service was getting neglected over the years. Marketers were after making people realise how unique and better their products were and why people should pay them for their “extra-ordinary” products. In this process, the communication between marketers and customers became more unidirectional, with marketing guys bombarding their prospects with more and more information about their products in order to outclass their competitors, forgetting that even their competitors were doing the same. This resulted in the customer getting exhausted with all the information about various products and instead of attracting people, marketers started to drive them away from their awareness campaigns, probably which is why only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive R.O.I. It was high-time for the marketing arena to get shifted from the ground of Information to the ground of Conversation.
This is where Social Media comes in. Social media forms a two-way communication channel where instant feedback can be received from customers. This aspect helps marketers to focus on Service along with Sale. The number of people on various social networking sites have quadrupled in the last 5 years and that’s what have grabbed attention of various businesses including all the big conglomerates. Proctor & Gamble, Mahindra, Unilever, Dabur, L’Oreal and many other big players have their own facebook page. The very fact that 2/3 of the global internet population visit social networks (Source: Nielsen, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009) have forced these players to make their presence felt on social networks and more importantly, to converse with people. This has given birth to an altogether new field in marketing called Social Media Marketing.
What is Social Media Marketing (SMM)?
SMM is such a broad term that it is hard to pin down a precise definition for it. This is what I think of SMM: Social media marketing means using various social media platforms to not only promote products but also to connect with customers, hear them out and thrive to build a healthy image in their mind which will ultimately result in positive word of mouth.
Another definition that I found convincing was : Social media marketing is a form of Internet marketing that utilizes social networking websites as a marketing tool. The goal of SMM is to produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach. (source: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/social-media-marketing-SMM)
To put it all in simple words : Internet + Message + People = Social Media Marketing
Why Social Media?
Well, the basic reason would be to have a better communication channel with customers but SMM is more than just communicating with people.
It eliminates the geographical barriers to coordinate marketing efforts, this means one guy from Kolkata and one from Mumbai, both can work on the same project, all they need is an internet connection. Working on social media reduces marketing costs significantly, creating a page on facebook, writing a blog, starting a teaser campaign via twitter, all these can be done without a penny in your pocket. However, the greatest advantage is, the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviours. Social media has the potential to influence the audience much quickly and effectively than traditional marketing tactics. From a company’s perspective this means, lesser cost, lesser time spent and wider reach !
A wonderful example of success of marketing using social media would be how Mr. Anna Hazare, a social activist was transformed into Brand Anna Hazare, The national hero. Using facebook as a medium many young enthusiasts, from different parts of our country came together and promoted his Jan Lokpal Bill. What started as a conversation later became a nation-wide promotional and awareness campaign.
Who can do Social media marketing?
” Social media marketing is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s done, there is surprise it’s not better.”
– Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist, Google.
There it is, “everyone wants to do it” and in fact, anyone CAN do it. Be it a multi-billion dollar company, or a start-up firm located somewhere in remote parts of Africa, SMM provides equal opportunities to everyone who is creative and knows well how to connect with people. SMM is more about generating an emotional appeal than highlighting tangible benefits and anyone who has a knack of doing so can be a good social media marketer.
However, there needs to be a proper strategy in place. What to say, when to say and How to say should be known. Once you start a conversation, people are gonna talk about it, with or without you. So you better be active, alert and SMART.
What has changed due to SMM?
SMM has changed the way to look at a brand, both for marketers as well as customers.
Traditional marketing Social media marketing
Traditional marketing Social media marketing
SMM has revolutionised the way a company’s marketing department functions.
The growth in brands’ use of social media has meant that the ‘brand personality’ has become far more literal. This is due to the people behind the brand being far more accessible as a person or people actually drive the one-to-one communication between a brand and their stakeholders, so in that way the customer-brand relationship has become much more prominent too.
It used to be that you could only communicate to thousands of people at a time via a TV or print ad, and although they tried to tailor the ad to a specific audience, it was never really that ‘specific’. With the growth of social media, ‘specific’ virtually has an entirely new meaning – you can be specific down to one individual person. Marketing now reaches that one facebook user who asked a question on the facebook page by means of a reply to that question. And that reply, by pure means of being visible to all others on the facebook page, sends out a powerful marketing message itself.
And thus it appeals to that oldest and most trusted marketing tool, Word Of Mouth.
To sum up in one word, social media has made marketing Viral ! Faster reach, faster response, faster feedback, faster association resulting into faster acquisition of customers.
The New Role of a Marketer in SMM:–
Now that customers are the ones controlling the brand, marketers’ role has changed significantly when it comes to market a brand. Two prominent roles are
To Teach Company Staffs about Social Media Management:
Marketers are more needed today to educate every person in a company, marketers or non-marketers alike, on ways to handle brand image on social media. This is because everybody is now representing a company’s brand. It is no longer the role of the marketing or PR person only.
To Support and Guide the Customers:
Since one cannot control and decide what kind of contents customers will share on social media, a marketer should create an atmosphere around his brand, to guide and support the customers all the way, to like and share good things about his brand. One way to do that is to focus on educating the prospects and customers through related posts, articles, images and other related contents.
What can be achieved through SMM?
But as they say, every coin has two sides, even social media marketing is not all rainbows and sunshine. If not done properly SMM may result into a disaster bringing defamation not only to a brand but to the entire company which owns that brand. And mind you, as it’s said, SMM facilitates faster reach, well, this can be a double edged sword. If a company hurts sentiments of even one of its customers, he is going to tell that, not to ten, but hundreds of people in his social network.
In a world full of competition, it all boils down to how well you manage your resources and be a step ahead of your competitors. SMM is definitely an important tool that can help companies to achieve that. Marketers are now realising its importance and adopting to this new era of marketing.
In the end, all I have to say is, with the rise of social media marketing, its time marketers should
stop thinking Campaigns and start thinking Conversations….
- Kotler, Lee, & Rothschild, 2006.
- Presentation by Mr.Philip Kotler in Thailand Management Association Bangkok, Thailand, 2009
- Hands-On Social Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide to Designing Change for Good by Nedra Weinreich
If you wish to write for us then kindly check this.