There is no denying the power of the internet when it comes to increasing business, and more specifically, the power of social networking. Consider that approximately “46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase” (Bennett, 2013, infographic). And that “social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC (PayPerClick)” (infographic). So, what does this mean for the future of brand marketing? It means companies should look for the best ways to use social media for marketing their brands.
To capitalize on the increasing use of social media, there are some specific things a company can do. They include the following:
- creating applications to be used with mobile technology,
- emphasizing interaction and engagement with their current and potential customers,
- using and optimizing Facebook tools,
- entering the Chinese social media
Doing these four things will help a brand increase exposure and revenue.
Concentrate on using mobile technology
One in four people globally, and fifty percent of all Americans, use social media (Kemp, 2012). Of those, most are—or soon will be—accessing it via their mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. With the proliferation of mobile technology, people are continually connected. With everyone having instant access to everything on the web, businesses need to optimize their social media. If your business doesn’t have an application (app) for a smart phone, create one. Interaction and engagement are essential. They will get people coming to your site and telling their friends about it. And that’s what social media is all about, right?
Interact and engage your audience through social media
One of your social media objectives should be to continue to engage your audience by using new tools. You must start new—and continue current—conversations with customers and foster interaction. Encourage feedback and provide special offers.
As easy as this may sound, the majority of businesses aren’t currently doing this. Shea Bennett (2013) explains that “two-fifths of companies do not track social media responses” (para. 3). If you don’t track your customers’ responses, how can you converse with them? Stay in tune with them. Listen to what they’re saying, answer their questions promptly, get involved, and find out what they want then give it to them.
Optimize your Facebook page
Facebook is an important social media marketing tool. Like social media as a whole, it is continually changing. And that’s good news for marketers. According to Carol Haskell (2013), “Fifty-two percent of all marketers have found a customer via Facebook” (para. 1). Fortunately for marketers, Facebook seems to be constantly finding new ways for promotion.
One new feature is Ticker. Brands are given more exposure because friends can now see—in real time—what their friends are doing. To promote your brand through Ticker, you will need to create an app that can be streamed or shared such as Spotify has. Since measuring your reach is always important in marketing, Facebook has a Talking About feature that helps “brands measure, react and optimize the social channel content to ensure maximum engagement and increase content sharing potential” (Brown, n.d. p. 6). This is a good measuring tool that allows you to see your Facebook page’s “Weekly Total Reach” and “Friends of Fans” to get information on how your page is being shared.
Enter China’s social media
With China’s purchasing power, they are a formidable global market. A business should not pass up the opportunity to look into marketing there. According to Bloomberg News, “China overtook the U.S. last year as the world’s biggest economy when measured in terms of purchasing power” (2011, para. 1). China’s growth “has averaged 10.3 percent a year over the past decade, nearly six times faster than the U.S” (Chiu, Lin, Silverman, 2013, para. 3). This opens up a whole new market for companies wanting to capitalize on such buying potential. To do this, businesses must start marketing on China’s top social media.
According to a new McKinsey survey, “The country has by far the world’s most active social media population” (Chiu, Lin, Silverman, 2013, para. 1). Since they are extremely active on social networks, businesses must reach out to Chinese citizens through their most popular sites. Ad Age Global says, “China now has 580 million people active on that country’s top social network, Tencent’s QZone (Madden, 2013, para. 3). China’s version of the U.S.’s popular social media sites are Tencent Weibo (akin to Twitter), Sina Weibo (a microblogging website most closely related to WordPress), PengYou (like Facebook), and RenRen (also comparable to Facebook).
When marketing to the Chinese, it is important to know that they are culturally skeptical and “lack trust in formal institutions” (para. 2) so recommendations by peers is important to them. The Chinese are more likely to purchase a product if it is recommended by a friend or if they saw it on a social media site (para. 2) as opposed to through traditional marketing efforts. This knowledge should be taken into consideration when deciding how to market there. Entering and engaging the Chinese market should be a top social media priority.
Social media is changing and so are we
A universal truth is that social media is constantly changing. Is it changing because of technology or is technology changing because of us? In my opinion, it’s both. We are so used to instant access to anything that technology has to keep pace. On the other hand, we’re so used to instant access because it was technologically available. Either way, the fact is it is changing and we have to keep up with it and it has to keep up with us. The businesses that give us what we want and/or need are going to increase revenue faster than those that just provide what we already have. That’s why it’s so important to remain vigilant and know what’s available in social media. If you keep an ear to the ground and know when something new is available, you will be able to implement it quickly (if it works for you). The future of social media means increased revenue and stronger brand affinity as more people look to social media for brand information.
Bennett, S. (2013, May 27). 17 incredible social media marketing statistics. In Media Bistro. Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-marketing-stats_b43558#more-43558
Bennett, S. (2013, June 12). Drowning in data—How can businesses stay afloat in the sea of social media? In Media Bistro. Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-data_b44758#more-44758
Brown, A. (n.d.). The changing Facebook: What marketers need to know for 2012 social media planning. In Slideshare.com. Retrieved from http://es.slideshare.net/unitedfuture1/f8-recap-the-changing-facebook
China overtakes U.S. as biggest economy when measured by purchasing power. (2011, January 13). In Bloomberg News. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-14/china-tops-u-s-as-biggest-economy-by-purchasing-power-update1-.html
Chiu, C., Lin, D., and Silverman, A. (2013, February). High influence: China’s social media boom. In McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from http://cmsoforum.mckinsey.com/article/high-influence-chinas-social-media-boom
Haskell, C. (2013, May 16). Is your business’ Facebook page effective? In EnvisionMarketingMA.com. Retrieved from http://www.envisionmarketingma.com/blog/articles/isyourbusinessface/
Kemp, S. (2012, April 25). 12 provocations: A dozen digital developments that will shape the future of marketing. In Slideshare.com. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/the-future-of-social-media-12-provocations