One of the most important electronic items in this century is the cell phone. It is nearly impossible not to spot people using them during the day…or at night. There are 32.25 million subscriptions in the USA alone, people play games, use social media or browse on the internet, additionally, the smart phone is also a networking device and has indefinitely changed the way people communicate.
Facebook and Twitter also gained a boost via smart phones, it is estimated that over 71percent of people in the USA are on Facebook – globally, there are half a billion people on Twitter. It is usual for people to check their Facebook and Twitter account at least once a day; it has become an ideal way to keep in touch with family and friends.
Majority of the market is controlled by baby boomers (about 70%) and now they do not need to carry a laptop with them, nor they need to be tied to their desktop. Smart phones and tablets have enabled them to network ‘on the go’….so wherever they go, they have access to social media.
The nature of social media is addictive, some experts even call it a ‘drug’, the fancy images, videos and posts are hard to ignore, there is clutter. However, users filter the information. This emerging trend has also changed the way brands communicate with their customers.
The Digital and Social Blend
Marketing has evolved into a combination of – social, digital and traditional. Has the consumer lost interest in TV commercials, radio and the print media? The answer is ‘yes’. Digital marketing has pulled consumers from the traditional marketing tools. However, marketers try to align the three mediums to the get the best of both worlds.
During the last decade, banner ads, email marketing and search engine optimization was considered to be the cornerstone of a digital marketing plan. However, they have lost their relevance if used without the social media component.
Empirical evidence tells us that the internet replaced traditional marketing, before the internet, the Radio poached the audience away from print media, similarly, the social media has conquered them all.
The important point here is ‘speed’ it took more than 30 years for 50 million people to have access to a radio…For Instagram, it took a year and a half. The credit goes to smart phones, tablets and laptops, they have increased multitasking. People can share Pinterest while sitting at the park, they can watch their favorite TV show while checking their social media account, they can tweet while crossing the street.
The social media is growing and this is a healthy sign from a marketing perspective, companies have realized that and almost every brand have a Twitter and Facebook page. Brands have to be mobile, just like their consumers, networking on the go.
Its important to understand the opportunity which the social media offers in terms of brand growth, they key is content. Popular networks like like Facebook, While brands post a lot of content on popular networks, they are not investing in it. Most brands invest only 1 percent of their marketing budget here, consumers spend a lot of time on social media and this is increasing.
Its important for brands to tell a story…something that filters through the clutter and creates value. It’s the word of mouth which sells, social media sells nothing, some experts even say that the social media sells crap.
Boxing and Storytelling
Traditionally, businesses where punching customers left and right with jabs and hooks with the television, radio, outdoor, print and the internet. It was like a one sided boxing match, customers had nowhere to go but now things are different. Brands have to soften up their customers before they land the final blow. Its vital for brands to make their customers laugh and feel appreciated, the jab can make that happen, it’s the story brands need to make the final sale.
When jabbing, brands need timing. A jab is complimented with the ‘right hook’. That can happen if a brand can create quality content; they need to know the right nuances and consistency.
Fact is that many businesses are hung up on traditional marketing and while they have social media accounts, they do not really use the right language. Businesses would throw money at television, print and the radio…more innovative businesses would spend money of SEO…not a good idea. What people need is a strong response, getting that on the social media takes time and a lot of effort. Businesses feel that it’s not financially feasible for them in the social media because it’s hard to sell, it’s not that difficult, once the proper respect has been given to a community, they will follow.
This is the age of the smart brand manager, questions like “How to make it better?” are now centered within the social media strategy. This also involves in attracting talent if one wishes for a progressive business, talent is destroyed with the fear of failure, its diminishes the many possibilities. Every platform is different and it deserves its share of respect. Therefore, brands need to tell a story which the PLATFORM wants to hear.
These platforms have gained a lot of success, ignoring them is plain stupid, clinging on to nostalgia is not recommended for marketers, the reality of the market comes first…even before the principles.
Some snobs are afraid of technology, this fear limits their potential to succeed. Lets take the example of YouTube, we all have seen silly videos posted their, people dressing up doing weird things, some of them would put things puts bulbs in their microwaves. However, YouTube is considered to be the future of television, many brand managers and entrepreneurs spent a lot of time to understand the platform.
Just like boxing, one needs time to observe and test his/her technique and learn from mistakes. Its also important to observe what the competitors are doing, this helps the boxer to take that information in the ring and win.
Armed with the right information, businesses can create better content that connects with their users. Storytellers are tuned to their audience, they tell the story which would relate with people and create awareness. With data mining on our fingertips, achieving audience awareness is easily achievable, the social media provides real time feedback which can help anyone formulate an effective strategy.