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We love the marketing world.

It’s exciting. The marketing industry is one that’s forever evolving.

Ambitious marketers are constantly testing new hypothesis, implementing new strategies, and competing with one another to see who can achieve the furthest reach, land more leads, and grow their business the fastest.

Whilst it’s the people in marketing we find so inspirational and incredible, the real game changers are the tools we have to experiment with.

With every year there’s new toys and tools to play with. Analytics advances that offer new insights to act on, new paid ad refinements to leverage, and exciting new features like Facebook messenger bots.

Every year there’s a new development. Something shiny for marketers to learn, understand, leverage, and profit from. New channels and tactics that lead to entire new pantheons of marketing gurus and their followers.

And yet, in recent years there’s been one development from which so many others have developed. One which plays a central part in the growth of the marketing industry.

Social media.

When Facebook first launched no one could have guessed it would form the basis of so many business’s marketing campaigns. It was never thought there would be full time social media consultants, and no one ever imagined that brands and entrepreneurs could make hundreds of thousands of dollars every single month through the platform.

Social media is more than a network for social interactions. It has become a fundamental part of many businesses, and we’re going to examine how it’s shaped the marketing industry.

Advertising

Old school advertising was simple.

Run an ad in a print magazine and hope it generated sales.

The king of all ‘ad men’, David Ogilvy, developed a more productive procedure and popularised extensive research to guide the development of informative adverts. His techniques also tracked the effectiveness of campaigns and made the idea of iterative improvements mainstream.

Ogilvy’s insights were so powerful that he spearheaded many campaigns that lasted not for weeks, months, or even years, but for decades.

With Dove, he highlighted that 1/4 of every bar is moisturising cream and so wouldn’t dry your skin. A staple of their marketing even today.  

Social Media Marketing

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Ogilvy’s ideas turned the traditional advertising format from wholly brand led, to consumer informed. These ideals of a research based approach were prevalent through every future marketing iteration.

And when the internet came along, things were kicked up to the next level. We were given an unparalleled access to user data, interaction, and research.

For years banner ads and search placements were advertisers bread and butter. They drove thousands of clicks and countless interested customers to sites, helping web owners drastically increase profits.

But it was still only consumer informed yet brand centric.  

That was until the advent of social media. Social media advertising has, by and large, taken a similar route. Advertisers use search and display ads to run customer informed, brand centric ads to their ideal users.  

However, the big difference was in the ability comment directly on the ad and leave an instant opinion on their thoughts. This is not only great for audience research, but it drastically increases reach as each comment and like shares it with the user’s connections.

Social Media Marketing

1,200 comments, 2,700 shares, 2.3 million views

This has been the start of more consumer centric advertising. Each interaction compounds the effectiveness of the ad and brings in countless more potential customers.

Social media hasn’t just given advertisers the ability to target people on a more casual channel, it’s allowing them to interact with everything they publish in a way that was previously impossible.

Customer Service

Customer service has always been the backbone of a successful business.

You could have the best product, most incredible sales processes, and fantastic business plan, but if your customer service sucks it’s all doomed to failure.  

People talk. And whilst they’re willing to overlook average and even good customer experiences, they’re far too eager to share how a specific brand, product, or store offered an experience that ruined their day.

This negative press travels quickly. Even a minor upset can cause damage that takes years to rebuild. If your customer service is poor, you’re going to have a difficult time attracting new customers.

It wasn’t always this way. Back before the advent of the net, a single bad experience would be limited to the disgruntled customer and their immediate friends and family.

As the internet grew to dominate the globe, review sites became popular. Poor management of customer service was often reported on these sites and available for the world to see.

Social media simply exacerbated the issue. Users are quick to turn to Twitter or Facebook and lambast brands they feel aren’t doing enough. When a brand has hundreds of thousands of followers, these negative mentions can have a hugely negative impact.

Social Media Marketing

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However, it’s not all negative.

Smart brands are receptive to users on social media and refuse to leave people “in the dark”. They respond to complaints in a timely, professional manner which can go a long way to immediately re-establishing a positive brand image.

The best brands go beyond being simply reactive. They actively engage customers through social media. They respond to all brand mentions, but also proactively run campaigns to establish a blanket, positive image of the brand.

They joke and jest with users, show their personality, and build relationships through proactive management of their account.

This interaction is something that wasn’t available before social media, and it’s an incredible benefit to having an engaged audience. Rather than letting your users languish in the dark, uncertain whether their thoughts are being heard you can interact with consumers and foster an incredible brand image that makes people want to buy from you.

Califia Farms provide a great example of how to promote a positive brand image that drives engagement and interaction from their users. If you check out their Instagram you’ll find the regular high quality, shareable images that present the brand in a positive light.

However, they also take the time to produce engaging video that establishes them as a helpful brand who’re knowledgeable in their field.

Social Media Marketing

Not only is this post getting a huge deal of interest, Califia Farms are replying with helpful comments to spread a positive brand image through exceptional customer service.

Research

Since the days of Ogivy, extensive research has formed the backbone of many marketing campaigns.

Finding the right message to deliver, and the right time to deliver it for maximum impact, is the key tenet of effective marketing.

But that research has always been a difficult thing to collate.

There was a time where you’d have to rely on extensive in person interviews, or rely on users returning a printed questionnaire. The internet has allowed brands to digitise much of their research. Services like Survey Monkey have given everyone the opportunity to create surveys and gain a better insight into their audience.

Analytic services, heat maps, and tracking codes allow marketers to understand user interaction and gain implicit data highlighting what users find appealing.

But there’s little to marry the two. Only social media gives brands the ability to track user interaction and understand what’s resonating through engagement, whilst at the same time gather real-time feedback and thoughts through user interaction in one place.

Check out the below example Twitter poll as an example:

Social Media marketingSure, this is a frivolous, fun example. But not only did Stephen Colbert get the opinion of over 71,000 people, he also managed to generate nearly 500 comments. Comments which are going to have far more useful information to mine that a simple multiple choice answer.

When leveraged in the correct way, social media can be a huge boon to your research plans. It’s where users are spending most of their time, and these surveys grab attention because they seem like fun, but also generate a tonne of useful information for you with very little effort.   

User Generated Content

All developments in social media seem to have been working towards making the marketing of brands more interactive. Allowing them not only to converse with users, but also to bring their thoughts and ideas directly into campaigns instead of simply informing them.

User generated content is the next iteration in this development, and is set to be the next big thing in marketing.

Brand generated content is always viewed with some scepticism.

You are the owner of the service or product and so you are of course biased. You stand to gain from every sale and so are expected to exaggerated the benefits of using your offering.

It’s no secret. For years marketers have understood the benefit of implementing user reviews and testimonials. We pepper eCommerce sites with real time user reviews, publish real thoughts on landing pages, and asked for video testimonials.

Social media has offered the next step in solicitation and publishing these trust building reviews.

Take this example from Telegraph Events. Looking for digital channels to promote exhibitions, they turned to StoryStream’s content platform through which they promoted:

– Pre event behind the scenes content from exhibitors to build interest

– The best content shared to social media from attendees during the event

– Post event visual summaries of each event to create an evolving story

Social Media Marketing

This development in social media allows brands to simultaneously take advantage of genuine user reviews, whilst at the same time build desire and blanket social media with positive images of their brands.

Unlike brand led examples, these user generated campaigns hold so much more weight because the come from real users who have nothing to gain from promoting the brand.

What’s Next for Social Media?

Social media is a strange beast. It’s taken a complicated journey to arrive where it is now, and it’s difficult to see where it will end up tomorrow.

If the general trend continues, we could see even more brands getting users involved in their marketing through various social media campaigns. Campaigns which no longer serve to inform an optimisation strategy, but in a single step both inform and fulfil a campaign.

No one can be certain where social media is heading, but it seems likely that it will take us to even higher engagement and user interaction.

If you want to stay ahead of social media trends and maximise its marketing potential, come and have a chat with one of our experts.

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