Saturday, October 3, 2009

How can social media marketing help your brand?

As part of an integrated marketing plan
, social media is the online marketing element that can best be described as the new word-of-mouth marketing. In the past consumers didn’t have any control over marketing messages but new technology gives consumers power by allowing them to decide which brands they want to engage with.

This shift in power makes it vitally important for brands to entice consumers to want to engage with them. Social media present brands with the opportunity to engage with consumers and get them to spread the brand message. When this is done correctly, social media can turn brand ambassadors into brand evangelists.

With so many platforms available anyone with Internet access can become a publisher through networks like Facebook, Twitter and so many others. Consumers can publish their opinions, experiences and thoughts whilst choosing who they want to interact with. Thus, social media gives consumers the power to have their voice heard.

Social media ties in with other online marketing elements like search engine optimisation (SEO) and online reputation management (ORM) as part of an online marketing strategy. It’s a mistake to think that social media and search are mutually exclusive. Twitter or Facebook profiles and blogs are showing up more frequently on the first page of search engine results, whether the group, fan page or blog is owned by the brand or not. In terms of your “Google CV” it looks good if the group or blog post is of a positive nature, praising the service of a brand, but it is a completely different story when it is negative. For instance on the first page of Google’s search results for “SAA” the blog “SAA Sucks” is listed. This of course is where Online Reputation Management (ORM) is all too important to include as part of your social media campaign strategy.

Unfortunately, social media is not as easy as setting up a Twitter account, creating a Facebook fan page and ticking social media off on your marketing to-do list. Social media requires continuous activity and engagement. Amongst other things, social media platforms can be utilised to execute ORM. For instance, by using brands can see what is being said about them in the Twittersphere. Vida e Caffé is one of the South African brands using Twitter to their benefit. Others include Virgin Active South Africa, First National Bank and iBurst. These brands use Twitter to respond to questions, complaints, compliments and offer advice.

You don’t have to be everywhere, but it is important to have a presence on the more mainstream social networks like Twitter and Facebook. When a brand decides to engage with its consumers through social media there are a few generally accepted conventions to which one should adhere, for instance:

- Do not spam your readers and followers with marketing messages and promotional offers - Encourage dialogue and be interactive, remember it is a conversation! - Always respond to questions, queries and comments, whether it is good, bad or ugly

When a brand offers valuable content it is sure to see ROI from social media. Social media marketing can be complicated to execute, especially when it comes to closing the loop, maintaining consistency and starting a viral effect. If you would like to know how social media can enhance awareness for your brand as part of an online marketing strategy, contact AlterSage for a consultation.

No comments:

Post a Comment