Social media will continue to be a prominent channel for marketing in 2013. It has forever changed the way brands interact with customers and prospects. While the majority of marketers are utilizing social media as a key communication channel, there are still a lot of question marks about the true value of marketing through social forums. Marketers need to change their mindset about how to use and derive value from these newer channels and eventually maximize the revenue potential of these captive audiences.
When marketers post a campaign to Facebook they may ask, how many likes will this drive or how many users will view this? Those aren’t necessarily the right questions as it relates to social media. These forums are different than other forms of communication and marketers need to start looking at the big picture. Social media is part of the consumers’ daily life, with over 1 billion Facebook users, reaching a vast amount of consumers through a forum they use nearly every day has a special value.
A recent survey found that 62 percent of marketers are leveraging social media profile data (e.g., profile ID, likes, and, interests). Yet, many marketers need to effectively leverage this profile data across other channels. Right now, marketers are speaking to customers on channels such as Facebook and Twitter, but most are failing to spark the needed engagement of two-way, cross-channel conversations and really listen to customers to drive the desired brand loyalty. As marketers begin to realize the real value from these channels, expect to see increased social media engagement with consumers.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are not islands and shouldn’t be treated like ones. By bringing social media marketing and communications into the cross-channel mix, brands can execute more targeted and more effective campaigns and truly reach the customers.
Marketers can recognize the real value of social media marketing by:
- Realizing the importance of gaining access to updated data: Consumers are opting into social media apps, allowing marketers to obtain accurate and valuable customer data. This is likely to be high-quality data too – for instance, an email address from a Facebook account is probably more accurate than one a marketer would gain elsewhere. Having this data is very powerful, as it then allows the marketer to converse with the customer or prospect on other channels (email, mobile, etc.), enabling true cross-channel conversational marketing.
- Leveraging new social media technology - Social media has also allowed marketers to leverage the use of social check-ins (especially when using Facebook’s Open Graph data) where a social user marks his or her location via social apps. When check-ins are stored, marketers then have an opportunity to deliver real-time location-based offers as well as analyze the data for future campaigns. For instance, a check-in at a coffee shop could trigger a mobile push notification offering an incentive to visit a nearby retailer.
- Cultivating brand ambassadors: Customers are now willing to take action and share viewpoints on social media forums. They can act as influencers or ambassadors for a brand and sway their friends – who are also potential buyers.
A recent Forrester report, “How To Build Your Brand With Branded Content,” asked consumers which types of advertising/ promotions they trusted most; brand or product recommendation from friend or family ranked first in both U.S. and Europe (71 percent and 61 percent, respectively). Marketers should recognize that not all recommendations are straight from the mouth, but many come through online endorsements—through a positive Tweet or liking a photo on Facebook. Marketers should put a greater emphasis on building a pool of ambassadors through social media. Once the relationship with fans is established, one-to-one, cross-channel dialogues should then be initiated with consumers. Social media can help marketers to communicate, listen, and drive brand loyalty.
If marketers can put on a new pair of glasses and see social media through a new lens, they will realize the value of communicating through these channels. Social media provides access to near perfect data, provides real-time information, and is a breeding ground for invaluable brand ambassadors. These benefits go beyond the number of likes on a Facebook page and can ultimately drive a brand’s visibility and revenues.