It’s happening again! The ways smart marketers communicate with, influence and generate response from customers is evolving in monumental proportion. With the introduction of Web 2.0 and Social Media Marketing, businesses of all sizes now have the unique opportunity to support new customer acquisition/retention, revenue growth, decreased costs, brand awareness, improved market share and a whole host of other business and customer relationship management benefits more efficiently than ever!
An apparent shift in mindset is also occurring (again):
– Marketing to individual networks
– Radically transparent communications
– Collaborative, dynamic and participatory promotions
– Invitation advertising/marketing
– Inclusive, exponential and viral reach
Now don’t get me wrong: the traditional definition, rules and benefits of marketing still apply and work! Marketing is, after all, “getting the right message to the right people via the right media and methods,” or at least that’s my favorite definition. The most successful campaigns have a well-thought-through plan and strategy including tracking of key success metrics. Knowing your customer intimately and targeting them with laser-precision usually contributes to a high Return On Objective. And, developing a key message and communicating that effectively can really help ‘hook ‘em’ well for sales to ‘reel ‘em in.’ However, the media and methods used are evolving. In other words, where our customers live and breathe, how they communicate, how trends are set, how influence transmits among specific and general audiences and, most importantly, how decisions are made, are changing. As a smart marketer, you should be acutely aware of this, at the very least. And, to be and/or stay competitive, you should consider getting in the game.
If you’re not in the game just yet, don’t panic. It’s not too late. Following is a brief overview to help you better understand Web 2.0 and Social Media Marketing for your business and for developing your own playbook.
Web 2.0/Social Media Marketing Defined
According to Wikipedia, Web 2.0 is a buzzword which describes the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomy (social indexing).
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However, many marketers and executives are not comfortable with the lack of control over social media. It’s true that to get in the game means agreeing to an open and honest relationship with customers. Sharing untold product, service and/or company secrets, asking people to rate your product/service, and ‘surrendering your brand’ to viral criticism are all things that makes traditional marketers, used to a world of message control and management, uneasy. Nonetheless, when managed properly, “social networks can be extremely effective channels for building product evangelism, reputation management or corporate branding.”1 In addition, it could be argued, that if customers are going to talk and share opinions online and elsewhere (and you have to assume they are), it is better to invite them to contribute those opinions in a forum that you have access to. That way, you can monitor feedback and make decisions based on it showing customers you are listening and you care.
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