Social media imply a democratization of information and require authenticity and openness from those who would deliberately use them for marketing. Relying on the Internet, this means that good stories as well as bad stories spread and stick around. Jeff Jarvis may have had problems with Dell in 2005, but you can easily find all relevant communication with a quick Google search.
Although they are engaging publicly with a wide audience, marketers need to remember that they are communicating with individuals. While marketers should engage in the conversation and can lead it, they cannot control it.
The influence of bloggers means that they should form a part of any public relations (PR) strategy (see Chapter 12 "Web Public Relations" for further details).
Supply content creators with the tools and resources they need so that they can easily talk about your product.
Social media allow anyone to have a say, and the same tools that are available to individuals are available to companies. Company blogs allow a brand to build a personality and to interact with its target market. Entertainment created and spread via social media increases brand touch points. Using the same channels that are available to your consumer aids in understanding the consumer and evens the plane of conversation.
When using social media to reach out to content consumers, go to where your consumers are. The media used are dictated by your users.
For example, a nightclub for students can create a Facebook group to advertise its weekly specials and interact with fans, while Land Rover enthusiasts would probably be more comfortable with a forum.
With all interactions, marketing messages need to be labeled as marketing messages, with a disclaimer added if necessary. Trying to hide them as something else will only decrease authenticity.
Content sharers are content consumers who also pass your message on, whether by using chat or e-mail, by sharing a link on a blog, or by submitting your content to a bookmarking or aggregating service. They are a crucial link in the chain that passes your message around. Make it as easy as possible for sharers to share by using chicklets and unique and easy-to-read URLs.
While marketers can use the tools of social media to convey their message, the user characteristics that define a social media Web site are also important. Social media allow users to express themselves, and this means that demographic information can be compiled to allow for more useful and targeted advertising. This presents many opportunities for targeting advertising and for finding creative ways to reach an advertisement-fatigued demographic.
There are many benefits to companies and marketers for taking advantage of the services that social media sites offer. The following are just some of these benefits:
There are huge risks as well as opportunities. Social media facilitate a two-way conversation between customer and company. This necessitates that the company shifts approach from “deploy and watch” to one of constant involvement with the audience.
To keep up with their audiences, traditional media have had to adapt. This has changed the way that they publish, both online and off, as well as how they can sell advertising.
For example, many newspapers now publish their content online as well as in their print publications. Online, they can allow for instant commentary on their articles. It allows an instant snapshot of what their readers think, which can then be used to make editorial decisions. Print stories can be supplemented online with video, and this has been embraced by many news organizations. Visit http://www.thetimes.co.za to see how one newspaper is using video online.
As mentioned, television advertisements can be placed online for free via channels such as YouTube. This opens advertisements to a new audience and allows for advertisements that can be created without the restrictions of television. Advertisements can be extended, and now additional footage can become as important as the original. Quality advertisements are voluntarily and deliberately viewed, as opposed to deliberately ignored.
As a creator of content, there is a plethora of platforms for the budding social media enthusiast. Throughout the chapter, we have listed the URLs for some of the most popular services, most of which are free. Instead of going back through the chapter, visit http://delicious.com/quirkemarketingtextbook. Use the tags to navigate to the social media tools you need to get started.
Social media allow marketers insights into their demographic and the chance to engage with their audience in a channel selected, and preferred, by the audience.
They allow marketers to capitalize on the creativity of their consumers to spread their message further, often at very low costs.
Lastly, social media provide avenues for establishing direct, personal contact on a level not available to traditional marketing campaigns.
However, companies also need to be aware that bad messages spread as well as good ones, and the connectedness that can prove so useful can also be a conduit for the distribution of negative messages.
This new landscape is one in which the customer really is king, and any attempt to dethrone the king can have dire consequences. Efforts to control the conversation in social media are soon found out and can backfire horribly.
Any company embarking on a social media strategy needs to be sure to monitor its reputation online. It is crucial to know what is being said in order to be able to respond and communicate in the social media sphere.
Social media are also known as consumer-generated media (CGM); this refers to the creation and sharing of content by consumers on the Internet. It has allowed a democratization of the Internet, where all Internet users now also have the opportunity to be creators as well as consumers of content.
Social media refer to the online technology platforms that allow users to do the following:
Most social media services are free to all participants and rely on advertising for revenue. Social media provide targeted demographic information to advertisers looking to direct their advertising.
Social media can have SEO benefits for a Web site, particularly when a company engages in the various social media. By using the services of social media, either to create or share content, Web sites can attract links, all helping enhance search engine rankings. Companies can also use their SEO keyword strategy to focus their social media efforts.
Social media can provide a targeted network for online advertising, allowing detailed demographic information to play a role in media planning and buying. Companies can also make use of the increased engagement of consumers to create engaging advertising for these mediums, such as advertising within videos and social-network applications, or merely making use of increased time-on-page metrics to create more intricate advertising.
Affiliates often use the new opportunities presented by social media to find new avenues for targeted traffic, resulting in revenue growth for the company being marketed.
Social media play a crucial role in viral marketing, due to the large, connected audience; in online reputation management (ORM), due to the way that users talk about brands; and in WebPR. Social media are used to express opinions and so are the bedrock of ORM. Any company or brand that is hoping to communicate to this connected audience needs to learn to use social media. ORM is all about the tools of listening and using social media to guide the conversation.
Viral marketing, online reputation management, and WebPR are expanded on in the following chapters.