Social Media has been a tool and medium to connect communities, families, friends and the outside world together. From a macro view brands can now also interact with consumers in more ways than before. Marketers refer to these touchpoints as moments of truth and it is ever more important that social strategies are aligned with the brands mission. This piece of writing stems from my academic arguments that the benefits of social media do in fact for outweigh the problems.
Social media has now gone to greater lengths than being a platform to enhance brand image and equity. Platforms have evolved to become e-commerce touchpoints where you can purchase direct through the brands social channel. This has gone to greater lengths in bridging the gap and marketers being able quantify their ROI. (Schnecker, 2015; Khan, 2016)
The rise of the new social platforms that have gone to further lengths to meet the demands of consumers has created a massive shift in the marketing landscape. Marketers are left with the same or less budget with more touchpoints to spread the budget across. However, platforms have moved towards bridging the gap and spearheading the conversation of ROI. Pinterest has championed this by adding ‘Purchase Pins’ to the platform. These purchase pins are a direct call to action that means as a consumer you can by taken straight to the product that you like to purchase it. The element of search and noise has been eradicated by this. (Shnecker, 2015)
Facebook has created a marketing juggernaut for themselves but also hugely beneficial for brands and consumers in developing brand building relationships. It was argued throughout the early years that the return on your Facebook ad spend and efforts could not be correlated with sales. The platform went on to devise precise call to actions and put your brand in front of appropriate consumers by making big data actionable. Kahn (2016) strongly argues that the advertising capabilities of the platform has enabled the furthered targeting of consumers to make social media a successful sales vehicle. Programmatic advertising for real time cost-per-click advertising has allowed marketers to build brand sales like a residual income.
Brand equity is only built up through intangible forces that need to be developed by other means on customer relationship management than post purchase evaluation surveys etc. Social Media platforms have the metric tools across platforms to collect and analysis big data. Looking at your brand through an analytical microscope was very difficult to do pre-social media as the only real quantitative metric that people responded to were bottom line sales. By analysing big data we are able to make informed business decisions about content and how to optimize the brand for success. With strong content being shared through analysis it will create a greater depth of value to the end customer. With greater value comes a greater sense of brand worth or otherwise known as brand Equity. (Moro, Rita and Vala, 2013; Yee, 2015; Kidman, 2016)
Data generated through social media is invaluable to a business as it is both qualitative and quantitative. Mining the data allows advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their existing communications and content. This leads to a greater knowledge of optimization of content for consumers as the strategy is aligned with the aid of educated insights. Through research it has been demonstrated that predictive knowledge supports a business decisions on whether or not they should post certain content. Further studies have found that social media management and engagement has a positive correlation between brand and consumer on the cognitive, affective and conative sides of the brain. (Moro, Rita and Vala, 2013)
Yee (2015) argues that big data allows a ‘business to adapt marketing communications on social channels’. He further his argument by stating that the data has a heavy weighting by informing the creative processes. The argument for big data is that there is a greater need to squeeze out 100% efficiencies in businesses and fully maximising marketing budget spent. Yee believes that through big data we are able to create a stronger brand image as the creative processes are informed to deliver what the market agrees with. Predicative modelling and pattern spotting are two ways this big data can be made actionable as it can go a long way in minimising the guess work in terms of consumer behaviour. The ability to view the consumer landscape businesses are able to produce content that reinforces a positive perception of the brand and increases brand equity in the market place.
Kidamn (2016) paints the portrait for data driven business decisions. Utilising analytics, he argues, is the need to ‘gauge the effectiveness of a strategy’ with a by-product predicating the trends. He notes that there is a very strong case that data increases brand equity as it has the ability to enhance customer service through intangible services, like a twitter response forum.
Social Media has become the new place for inter-personal conversations to take place. There has been an increasing rise of the influencer which has become an acquisition mechanism by brands. This is largely argued as the Digital WOM era. (Moran, Muzellec and Nolan, 2014).
Search engines index consumer generated content, like reviews, are highlighted at the top or higher in search results. The electronic space of WOM has generated brand trust and furthered equity. However, it is argued through their research that this type of social content offers potential customer the moment of truth phase. Credibility of word of mouth allows new customers to be acquired but also puts your brand on top through organic search due to the algorithmic nature of search.
Content shared through social platforms influences on online brand presence (Davis, 2013). Google, Yahoo! And Bing have developed algorithms that means social media content can be found through search by consumers. Through a strong social media content plan brands can create shareable keywords that boost this organic search optimization.
Clift (2011) has discovered that there is a direct correlation between social media and SEO through social media strategy. When the two are created and devised with the same common objectives in hand marketers can fully optimize their impact on brand performance.
Social media has taken down the barriers between brands and consumers. Nowadays consumers can tap into the lens of the brand behind closed doors and connect with individuals of the brand. Targeting consumers with the personal content is critically important when perusing a customer lead – evident throughout in business-to-business marketing. By implementing a strategy like this it creates a humanized approach that consumers are looking to relate too. The inter-connectedness of consumers feels like they become part of a community that they are buying in too. (Myers, 2015; Donohoo, 2016; Wright, 2016)
The importance of content being personalised to a consumer is a strategy to acquire and retain customers (Myers, 2015). With the use of monitoring and metrical analysis, brands can optimize the data collected, to understand what content engages consumers. This tailoring of content to consumers is more time consuming but leverages a bigger impact and return on marketing efforts.
Donohoo (2016), argues that customers have come to expect a personalised service offline and online and are frustrated when brands don’t listen to their own needs. The lack of ‘warmth and sociability’ are two arguments that consumers speak of when the online experience and journey isn’t personalised. Consumers have been noted to spend their money as a negative result in this. Donhoo’s research has found that brands who adopt human characteristics such as sincerity, friendliness, helpfulness and honesty can go some way to breaking down barriers to purchase. He says this is done through ‘brand anthropomorphism’.
The demonstration outlaid by Wright (2016) describes that personalisation ‘serves to create an emotional deeper connection to the brand’. The brand becomes elevated beyond the traditional above the line mass communication strategy. The sharability across social networks with consumer to consumer feeds have allowed brands to create valued content. This sharability factor or earned media has created brand motivation to produce better work which has moved marketing forward.
Consumers have become sceptical to branding messages with the era of the ‘tobacco advertising’ now at an end. Trust is the one thing brands must seek to do in order influence their purchase intentions. Social media has become one of the easiest ways to build brand trust and credibility with the rise of UGC (User generated content). (Hajli, 2014; Tuten and Solomon, 2016).
Hajili (2014) articulates that when brands engage with their consumers through an active social media presence they create relationships with consumers and their networks. It is noted that when brands are put forward by their own network of friends and peers the brand is deemed more credible and there is a higher chance that the friend will purchase from the brand. Hajli demonstrates that trust has a significant role in e-commerce and the building of this trust through networks as it directly influences sales and in term a brands success.
Tuten and Solomon (2015) have found that the effectiveness of organic UGC has shown that it positively influences brand equity and in turn makes huge strides to changing the perceptions to brand attitudes. The success of UGC is attributed to the brands agility and willingness to engage across differing platforms to reach their audiences.
Donohoo, M. (2016), Brand anthropomorphism online is personal. Available at: http://www.warc.com (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Evans, M. (2016), The new connected consumer code: Unlocking digital commerce opportunities. Available at: http://www.warc.com (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Hajli, N., Lin, X., Featherman, M. and Wang, Y. (2014) ‘Social word of mouth: How trust develops in the market’, International Journal of Market Research, 56(5), pp. 673-689.
Kahn, M. (2016), Social media can create retail sales – with the right marketing. Available at: http://www.warc.com (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Moran, G., Muzellec, L. and Nolan, E. (2014) ‘Consumer Moments of Truth in the Digital Context: How “Search” and ‘E-Word of Mouth” can Fuel Consumer Decision Making’, International Journal of Advertising, 54(2), pp. 200-204.
Moro, S., Rita, P. and Vala, B. (2016) ‘Predicting social media performance metrics and evaluation of the impact of brand building: A data mining approach’, Journal of Business Research, 69(12), pp. 5833-5841.
Myers, H. (2015) Three Ways to Personalise Your Social Media Strategy. Available at: http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/social-media-marketing/three-ways-to-personalise-a-social-media-strategy/2016 (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Schenker, M. (2015) To Grow E-commerce Further, Pinterest Makes ‘Buyable’ Pins Available To Bigger Retailers. Available at: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/to-grow-e-commerce-further-pinterest-makes-buyable-pins-available-to-bigger-retailers/ (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Tuten, T and Solomon. M. (2015) Social Media Marketing. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Wright, L. (2016), Personalisation: unlimited potential or potential pitfall?. Available at: http://www.warc.com (Accessed: 6 December 2016).
Yee, Y. (2015) When you think about big data, think bigger creatively. Available at: http://www.warc.com (Accessed 6 December 2016).