IN RECENT times one has seen social media take the world by storm. From Facebook to Twitter to other networking sites, more and more netizens are sharing their lives with others. Social media has thus become the next big marketing tool as brands can now directly interact and engage with their desired target audience on a real time basis. A couple of months back there was a research by an industry trade group Word of Mouth which stated that an average consumer mentions specific brands more than 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. Also, 90 percent users consider opinions from people they know and 70 percent follow strangers. Social media therefore acts as a platform where consumers can come together and voice their opinions.
The fact that 84% of internet audience in India uses social networking sites makes it imperative that marketers should follow a well strategized plan before engaging with the audience. It is not about just creating a Facebook page, Twitter account or a YouTube video and start getting fans and followers. The main factor is to
build a two way connection and thus create engagement with customers. It is just like any other business conversation with customers in real time. Thus, these social media channels work as a platform where brand communication experts can address issues, inquiries and problems of their audiences. One needs to keep in mind that audiences come to social networking portals to socialize and get entertained and therefore the quality of content is important. On Facebook most people are expecting
to have a bit of fun, and they like content which is unexpected or entertaining.
Appealing games and applications, multimedia and video content are popular ways to create a branded experience. It has also been noted that celebrity conversations, catchy anecdotes and social causes garner a lot of viralling effect. Micro-Blogging applications like Twitter has also caught up among the youth and can be used by brands to garner consumer feedback. These social media tools and applications can act as a engagement platform, customer feedback arena as well as a brand promotion medium. Marketers can nowadays conduct researches and polls with their target audience and can thereafter formulate or tweak their marketing plans and promotions
Social networking also allows like minded people to come together and discuss issues of their interest. All that matters in social media is networking, communities, connections and discussions. Therefore, to cut it short social media has reduced distances both for individuals and companies and has become the perfect platform for people with similar interests to interact with each other.
Although there is hype that social media marketing is the next big thing and every company should plunge themselves into this ocean. The big question is does opening a Facebook fan page seem appropriate when most the target audience is on Twitter? Having a blog may seem like the most in thing to do but if none of the clients (present and potential) read blogs or subscribe to rss feeds, it would be futile. Therefore, every brand should study their target audience’s online usage before taking a
plunge into the social networking ocean. Most marketers believe that social media is a low risk and high reward channel. This might hold true initially but the key to success is garnering the trust of followers. The worst thing to do is to open a Facebook page, Twitter account or a You Tube channel and then not reach the audience regularly. This can generate negative word of mouth and affect the brand reputation.
Coming back to the fact, social media is the definitely one of the most promising upcoming tool as a marketing promotion activity. It has a deep and long lasting impact on the mindset of the customers and it can be an effective strategy for maintaining uniform reputation among a vast secti