Unless you’ve been living on some sort of desert island over the last few years, you must surely have noticed that the inexorable rise of social networking continues apace. Billions of us have personal accounts across a whole range of social media sites including Facebook and Twitter and it’s perhaps not too surprising that advertisers are quickly getting to grips with the potential these platforms offer. Their global reach makes them a particularly lucrative proposition to marketers, but their full potential is yet to be exploited. The data-mining potential of social media is of particular interest to advertisers, as it not only allows them to reach out directly to potential customers but also enables them to get a clearer idea of users’ preferences and what they’re more likely to respond to.
Of course, it isn’t just the world of commerce that’s sending doe-eyed glances in the direction of social media. Political players are also looking at how they can take full advantage of the opportunities it offers. US President Barack Obama, for example, is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in adapting social networking to political ends. His official Twitter account has more than 23.9 million followers and his campaign’s pioneering internet strategy is regarded as having played a crucial role in helping Mr Obama reach out to the youth vote a question which has vexed countless political strategists in the past.
As far as business is concerned, though, social networking is growing in importance all the time. Companies which lack a Twitter or Facebook presence, for example, may put themselves at a significant disadvantage in comparison to their more social media-friendly rivals. Of course, there’s a balance to be struck. Nobody likes to be pestered by companies trying to sell them stuff all the time, and bombarding users runs the risk of alienating them altogether. However, there is evidence to suggest that users do welcome a degree of interactivity with businesses and brands.
For one thing, social networking enables businesses and customers to converse quickly and easily. Customers can raise any issues or queries they might have, and businesses can get back to them without any fuss. However, you should remember that customers tend to expect a quick response so if you fail to reply to them with the answer they’re seeking, you could find that they simply drift off into the welcoming arms of a rival. It’s also worth thinking about what sort of tone you want to adopt through social marketing, and a lot of this will depend on what your customer base is.
The wave of social networking sites which have emerged in recent years has provided marketers with a number of potential quandaries but the opportunities at stake mean this is an opportunity that’s simply too good to miss. Social networking campaigns can also be easily integrated with more traditional forms of marketing, as more and more advertisers are finding to their advantage. Print or broadcast adverts, for example, can direct their target audience to the advertiser’s Facebook page or Twitter account, encouraging them to interact. The fact that social media unlike traditional advertising methods is a two-way street is what lends it such allure to marketers, and it isn’t going away any time soon.