If you haven’t noticed it yet, the winds of change are blowing in the field of marketing. With marketing so closely aligned to communication, it was inevitable that the technological advances in the communications field were going to change the way companies market themselves. Enter the age of social media marketing – a new tool that taps into and engages with a growing segment of Internet users who frequent web communities and ‘real estates’.
Passive participants actively affect your brand
Gino Cosme, e-marketing consultant explains: “Where once companies dictated what was said about their brands to a passive audience, consumers are now becoming the creators and distributors of these messages.” He lists MySpace, Del.icio.us, Digg, YouTube, Flickr and MyBlogLog as examples. The ordinary people who are part of these and other similar online communities have tremendous power to talk about brands, companies, products and service experience – generating hype and making recommendations that can affect the purchasing decisions of other consumers.
However, there is a catch. The information being circulated about your brand is far more in the hands of your customer than ever before and this can work for or against you. As Cosme points out, “As a result of social media being primarily controlled by its users, a huge mindshift is required. Unlike traditional media, social media should not be entirely controlled by a company with a narrow agenda or by hard selling techniques. Any company trying to control it will fail miserably. This means that being an active participant is vital.”
So how do you get it right?
This is a new and rapidly changing field and for these reasons it’s advisable to use the services of an expert who can help devise a social media marketing strategy for your business. The upsides are enormous; in addition to increasing your brand’s touch points, a sound social media marketing strategy will provide your company with the opportunity to build relationships with your consumers through meaningful dialogue, opening up a world of information about them and helping you to increase brand loyalty. Cosme adds: “By integrating social media into your marketing and communications strategy, you can facilitate reaching your consumers in both their off- and online environments, which equates to targeted (and measurable) branding.”
The costs of a bespoke strategic solution vary greatly, depending on the size and particular needs of a company. Cosme estimates that they range between a couple of thousand rands to R250 000. However, he adds that while expert advice is invaluable because there is a good deal of misinformation, business owners should also start empowering themselves by investigating what social media is about, what options are available and how it can work for them. The digital age helps those who help themselves so get clicking.
Contact Gino Cosme on +27 82 461 2038,email@example.com or visit www.cosmedia.co.za/subscribe