Social media is often refered to as the communication medium of the new millenium. Established and emerging social media channels (FaceBook, Twitter, or FourSquare) are growing their user base exponentially.
In June, FaceBook reached over 750 million active monthly users and it is predicted to reach 1 billion by early 2012. FaceBook is now competing with Google for your customer attention. According to the 2011 ComScore Report, Google still dominates Web traffic in terms of number of U.S. visitors, while FaceBook users spend more time per visit and visit more pages.
How does this shift in user communications impact your business and marketing? Many believe that social media marketing will replace some forms of traditional marketing, such as direct mail or “cold” calls.
We often view social media as very different from traditional media channels. Social media is different in the way that it allows you to communicate with much broader audiences directly and instantaneously. In essence, social media is an online conversation. For marketers, it is a unique opportunity to connect and stay in touch with customers, prospects, and partners. We can now reach new customer contacts and follow up on FaceBook or LinkedIN.
Customers interacting with your company are now in the driver seat when it comes to exchanging their feedback about your products and services. The online “word-of-mouth” is indeed growing at a rapid speed with the availability of new and emerging social media technologies. On FaceBook, for example, user interactions and company reviews are visible and known to “friends.” Customer experiences – good and bad – get shared on social networks and become part of the company’s reputation online.
What about the social media impact on marketing fundamentals, such as branding, customer relationships and trust? Social media communications are no different, from a marketing standpoint. It is all about the customer, not you.
Off-line, we all work hard to establish long-term customer relationships over time, and the same holds true for online conversations. Being honest and open, showing genuine interest in your customer, accepting feedback, and being responsive – that’s the true “secret” of social media success. Is it really a new school for marketers?
Marina Dippel is social media services director at SLN, Inc. She works with B2B clients in the technology and manufacturing sectors, developing social media marketing strategies to drive customer engagement and loyalty. Her experience with social media & online community management spans the business, technology, and education sectors. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect via LinkedIN: