The following post is a the final installation in a series of posts address social media marketing.
Today, a constant theme in marketing is the sustained balance between the pursuit of new influencers and the incorporation of tried-and-true methods. This relationship is the foundation on which a new communication bridge between companies and customers is being built.
In his most recent book Enage!, Brian Solis identifies a fundamental shift in American culture. According to Solis, this shift is creating a new landscape of influencers, as well as altering the very definition of influence. New media, however, is constantly evolving and has hardly revealed its true impact across business and marketing industries. Nonetheless, it is clear that new media will become more pervasive, thus becoming a critical factor in the success or failure of businesses.
The Society for New Communications Research recently conducted a study that measured respondents' perceptions of and experiences with social media. A research survey was completed by 356 professionals, with 23 percent of respondents identifying themselves as CEO of their organizations; 50 percent as Director; and 24 percent as Manager.
A few key findings of the study include:
- Professionals tend to belong to multiple social networks for business purposes.
- The "Big Three" social networks, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, have emerged as professional networks as well.
- Traditional decision-making processes are being disrupted by social media.
- Professional networks are an increasingly important decision-support tool.
- Connecting and collaborating are key drivers for professional use of social media.
As the business world enters the era of business-to-person (B2P) customer relationship systems, those organizations that take advantage of Web 2.0 technologies and SMPG platforms to enable B2P communications will be the winners in the global marketplace. Those businesses that do not understand the value of social media and its appeal to the emotional side of customer relationship management will lose competitiveness in the marketplace. Moreover, they will lose the ability to connect and learn from their customers.
For example, Jeff Swartz, President and CEO of the Timberland Company, uses tweets about his life and social issues. In an effort to make a connection with consumers, he placed a link in his Twitter account profile to Timberland's Earthkeeper project, which supports environmental awareness, rather than the company homepage.
Other large companies, such as Southwest Airlines and Comcast, use Twitter to address customers' concerns. Since negative customer experiences and reviews are broadcast just as quickly as positive ones, it is important for companies to pay attention to one-on-one customer relationships created via social media.
Though its impact cannot yet be precisely measured, new media is not a marketplace trend--it is a mainstay. The businesses that choose not to listen to their customers and participate in their lives will lose. On the other hand, the businesses that harness the potential by learning and connecting with consumers will ultimately win a more competitive place in the marketplace.