The Internet has always been used for communication, and with the development of social networking sites, the way in which media is shared and people stay in touch has been transformed. Web users can easily send messages to each other, share photographs or post events with sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which has sparked their boom in popularity.
This overwhelming rise in social networking has also opened up a new medium of communication with consumers and brands are able to directly interact with a global audience. Using social media as a marketing channel can be highly effective, but very few brands seem to be able to successfully employ its full potential.
Large brands often do not understand the concept of social marketing. As you rise through the ranks of any large corporation most comprehension of Facebook is lost by middle management level. Large brands, it seems, are unable to react to this channel and the divergent marketing structure it complies to. Social marketing has heuristics that are very different from those of traditional media advertising. The confines of marketing and PR structures are unable to acknowledge the international reach of online networks and the long term timescale of social marketing strategies.
Many brands attempt to market via the Internet but misunderstand what constitutes a successful campaign - they are still trying to 'push' a product or service in a way that does not work with Internet users. An important requisite of any social marketing campaign is that it does not come across as pushing a product or service. It should inspire curiosity, provide information or entertain in order to attract an audience.
The behaviour of web users and their reaction to marketing campaigns are considerably different to those from other marketing channels, and the results of an online advertising campaign rely on the user choosing to view or interact accordingly. Simply implementing a campaign will not suffice results; brands need to generate a web presence and tailor social marketing campaigns around this.
The success of social marketing is measured in responses, comments and people choosing to link to a brand's community, and any social marketing plan should aim to build an ongoing membership and awareness, unlike the short term campaigns of preceding media channels.
By embracing social networking sites, brands are able to actually draw consumers to marketing campaigns and build an ongoing long term assurance in terms of brand visibility. Brands that have successfully used social media include Smirnoff and Glaxo Smith Kline. Both managed to harness the power of YouTube and successfully seeded video virals. Their videos were posted using profiles that had built up a community of friends and subscribers. Branding was kept very subtle and it was the actual videos themselves that drew attention for being witty, funny and with value that appealed to users.
Marketing through social networking and traditional methods are by no means mutually exclusive and each can run to complement the other. In order for this to work brands need to be flexible and responsive to social networking opportunities as they transpire. Gaining online visibility is essential to rise above the clutter and attain brand exposure; this can be achieved through long term social networking measures together with online advertising and optimisation. Once exposure has been achieved, it is paramount to use this correctly to maintain any communities and promote positive awareness around your brand.
3B Digital strive to support a client's brand and ensure they maintain an advantageous position in respect to social media. 3B is able to combine this with our extensive experience in SEO (search-engine-optimisation) and PPC (pay-per-click) management to successfully manage online brand identity.