Social Media: The Ultimate Communication Tool

It has been widely reported that 2012 is the year of the multimedia social network; a year which will see competition grow amongst the market leaders and one in which businesses begin to fully embrace and understand how to effectively integrate social media into the Marketing Mix. 

Where once, advertising was dominant, communication has taken the lead; as the realms of the communication mix open, with a multitude of new platforms to initiate and host conversation that directly engages the consumer.  Establishing the Publicist as the 21st century's answer to the Advertising Executives of the 20th century.

With the masses tuning-out to those top-down messages (as I highlighted in my earlier article about Mummy Blogs) and digital technology becoming a fundamental aspect of daily life, the focus on social media has never been more important to the success of a company/brand.  There is no doubt that social media offers a wonderment of opportunity to almost every sector of business. There does, however, remain a pervasive sense of confusion among businesses of how to get social media working for (not against) them.

The Social Media Landscape
As this diagram demonstrates, the social media landscape isn’t strictly limited to the social networks alone.  Social networks are however, fundamental when compiling any Social Media Marketing (SMM) strategy.  Social Networks have been growing steadily since the Millennium and have rapidly taken hold in terms of popularity. Amongst the social network platforms, MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and LinkedIn still hold top spots.  The latest serious contender to rival these is Google+ which officially launched to the public community in 2011 with brand pages being added in recent months.  Many companies have already adopted the platform, with both large and small businesses demonstrating its potential to reach customers.  Latest reports from ComScore saw Google+ attract 67m visitors worldwide in November last year of which 2.7m were from the UK.  Unlike Facebook & Twitter which have a broadcast heavy format, Google+ activity is generated by quality, not quantity.

Other social media that should be considered in an SMM strategy include publishing platforms such as Blogger and Wordpress, RSS feeds, micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter, live-casts (audio and voice), and the video and photo sharing platforms such as Skype, Messenger, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram.

So what do social media have to offer and why are they so important? 

As a species, we are social by nature and thrive upon connection with others, with access to the internet at home, at work and on-the-move, people can choose to interact and unite when it wouldn’t otherwise be possible to meet, in a safe environment, providing as much or as little or connection as the user desires.

Gone are the days of the four P’s approach to marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), the conversation for businesses is no longer one-way making the original broadcast approach to promotion less effective and thus dawning a new era of interaction. Social media marks an evolution to the standard four P’s approach to marketing to incorporate a fifth key facet… Participation!

In simple terms social media offers a real-time approach to promoting a message, providing businesses with an option to initiate and host conversation.  Taking six-months to develop and launch a campaign are now a thing of the past as social media enables a more agile approach to marketing.

The fundamental assets of social media can be broken down into four categories… something I like to refer to as the four R’s:  Recognition – build awareness of your business/brand; Relationships – engage with your customers/fans; Resource – create an information exchange; Referrals – drive traffic and build customer/fan-base.

Social media can benefit a business/brand by:

  • facilitating how they engage with customers/fans,
  • enabling open, fluid interactivity,
  • delivering a sincere approach to promoting a message,
  • helping generate traffic,
  • nurturing consumer confidence
  • providing an instantly accessible avenue for marketing promotions and harvesting free, quick and accurate feedback.

If you need assistance mastering your social media from your social platforms or simply want someone to help build and manage your social media campaign and develop creative content, why not get in touch?