Social Media – Why Customers Hold More and More Power in the Marketing Mix
As internet culture continues to grow and transform the way we do business, it’s no surprise that more and more businesses are looking to spend more time and money on online advertising strategies to market their products and services. Whilst paid and organic search advertising continues to be an extremely useful means of driving traffic, marketers are increasingly looking to social media marketing and user generated content to raise their brand’s profile online.
Rather than simply targeting customers through inputted search terms, social media advertising proactively engages relevant users before they even get as far as opening a search engine. With smartphones and other mobile devices constantly available, information is at our finger tips at all times, and social media apps are often our first port of call when we pick up our device. Whilst potential customers absentmindedly scroll through their social media newsfeeds, marketers have opportunity to attract their attention.
Capturing customer’s attention isn’t as easy as it used to be. Traditional sales spiel no longer has the same effect that it once did; in fact, a hard sell often makes a brand seem less trustworthy. This is where some marketers have gone wrong with social media in the past – social media isn’t about sales, it’s about engaging and building a relationship with the customer. By earning their customer’s trust, businesses are much more likely to see increased sales.
Social media provides the perfect opportunity for brands to learn more about customers through engagement. By encouraging social media users to put their point across and give their opinions, brands not only capture the interest of their audience, but can benefit hugely from the new information that they get. As marketers learn more about what the customer likes, dislikes, needs and avoids, they can then use this information to deliver a direct solution to the customer’s problem.
Engagement is a key method of developing trusting relationships with customers and potential customers, not only increasing the possibility of sales, but also making it more likely that happy customers will do their part to spread brand awareness.
User Generated Content
Social media is an extremely potent and powerful tool, of which customer engagement is only one part. One of the biggest parts of engaging with customers through social media is that customers effectively become members of a brand’s marketing team. Social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or the increasingly popular Instagram provides the perfect opportunity for customers to promote a brand in their own way. This could be to take a picture of themselves in a new outfit, share a post by one of their favourite brands, or even to leave a review. This is called user generated content and is fast becoming one of the most important marketing tools in any brand’s arsenal and can be much more effective than dated sales patter.
The modern consumer doesn’t want to buy a product or a service unless they trust it, and while a large percentage of people are mistrusting of a few lines of description on a website, if a friend or another trusted source gives a positive spin on said product or service, a person is much more likely to develop trust and make a purchase.
By taking the time to engage with customers through social media and learn more about their requirements, brands can carefully devise their posts to increase the creation of user generated content. For example, a clothing company can ask their followers to post a picture of their latest purchase and tag the brand in, or use a specific hashtag. By taking this sort of strategy, a brand’s online reach can be hugely increased.
Marketers are finally realising that the customer is always right and that customer opinion is one of the most powerful sales tools there is. Social media marketing is a relatively low-investment, but high-impact way of raising brand awareness and increasing sales that can’t be ignored.