Written by Thomas Koponen
Social media: Are marketers using it right?
Continuation of blog post part 1 published on 5th of May.
In contrast, clever and inexpensive advertising through social media platforms such as YouTube can create discussion and brand engagement to the brand without spending the “big” dollars The Newcastle Brown Ale ft actor Anna Kendrick YouTube ad was a success, receiving nearly 5 million hits (Feb 13) on YouTube with a disclosed budget. The ad was mentioned by popular talk show host Conan O’brian, which had his followers flocking to YouTube to see the ad. Mentions such as the one made by Conan is one way to get noticed online apart from paid and organic searches on Google (Brandbase, 2014.).
The Newcastle brown ale ad often popped up in my social networks newsfeeds because someone in my network would share, comment or like the video. This is the power of social media. Social media platforms tap into the power of exponential growth through personal networks, allowing content to go viral and reach mass audiences through these social networks. There was much brand engagement and buzz around Newcastle Brown Ale in the weeks that followed, but how effective was the marketing strategy?
The difficulty for marketers is to monitor how effective these ad’s are through various metrics (Luo, Zhang, Duan, 2013), but more importantly understand what purpose they serve. For social media, a successful advertisement can be one which raises buzz, high brand awareness or results in high brand engagement and word of mouth. The Newcastle ad could be measured by how many hits the video received, how many favorites, likes and shares it received across its various social media platforms and how much referral traffic it drove to their website and then be evaluated on whether it was successful or not.
In traditional media, success can be measured in the amount of traffic to the website and the change (if any) in the amount of sales of a particular product after the release of an ad. Budweiser for example, used a mix of the two for the Super Bowl and were very successful. They paid $8m for a 1 min advertisement, which they then later uploaded to their official YouTube channel. The video on YouTube received 48 million hits (as of Feb 13) and many users posted it to their social media platforms such as Facebook and Pintrest while also being tweeted a lot as evident by the then trending hashtag #puppylove on Twitter.
Why companies use both strategies is because they want to first reach a critical mass audience with traditional and then have social media to amplify it through spreading on the Internet. Why? Because in general, social media has low engagement with users, for example those Facebook ‘likes’ does not mean that those people are actually interested in the company or brand (Veritasium, 2014). A company’s ad’s rarely go viral and those that don’t, they go largely ignored by the general mass audience (Stacy, 2013).
Entering social media and their platforms without a well-planned marketing strategy, having an understanding of what social media is and used for, can lead firms to damage their reputation themselves. Due to inexperience with the platform and rushed creation, many company social media platforms were left ignored and did not engage with customers the way that they had hoped and in some cases actually worked against them, as consumer perception of the brand did not align with the brands identity anymore.
Social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are tremendous marketing platforms for marketers. According to Kietzmann et al. (2011, p. 242) there are seven blocks of social media, which he illustrates in a honeycomb model and that “these blocks can help mangers make sense of the social media ecology, and to understand their audience and their engagement needs”.
There exists many types of social media platforms on the Internet and it is important that a company and brand chose their platform(s) wisely and for their intended purposes. The 4 C’s framework helps highlight the key functionalities of different social media sites.
YouTube is ideal for sharing content while it can also be used as a source to form groups, start conversations, and establish a reputation. Facebook on the other hand is designed for the masses. The key function is the development of relationships ‘friends’ but also to give others a sense of your identity ‘profile’, create a reputation, presence and establish conversations through chat, comments, posts or ‘likes’. By knowing the functionality of each social media platform, the marketer can optimize its functions and by doing so, strengthen the brand presence online and amplify the message being communicated by the company to consumers.
Further Discussion and Conclusion
Social media marketers still struggle with social medial platforms today. There is an observed knowledge gap between theory and practice, due to a lack of education or training for marketers within social media. Many marketers create all available social media platforms and try to implement traditional media strategies on these multiple social media platforms (Stacy, 2013). This marketing strategy is wrong according to the honeycomb framework, because not all social media platforms can be treated as the same or similar medium. They all have unique qualities and features, unlike traditional mediums where the same or similar advertisement could be communicated to the masses.
An example of a social media platform marketing fail can be seen when bank J.P. Morgan used Twitter to conduct a live Q&A with their Vice Chairman to improve their relationship with customers and answer their questions.
However, due to recent financial crisis there was still much public distaste for banks, and J.P Morgan’s twitter became a forum, which exploded with negative E-WOM.
To the extent that they closed the event before it had even started.
On Twitter, companies have little control over the content and as Kietzmann (2011, p. 246) points out that “on Twitter and YouTube, relationships hardly matter. The general rule is that social media communities which don’t value identity highly, also don’t value relationships highly”. Choosing Twitter to improve the customer relationship was a bad one by the marketing manager and hurt the J.P Morgan brand even though research by Schultz, Utz and Göritz (2011, p. 22) suggest that “crisis communication via twitter leads to higher reputation”.
Marketers now understand that social media platforms are huge tools that must be carefully managed, just like any other medium in their marketing strategy. Marketers have come to accept that social media can be applied to the marketing mix due to the pull nature of Web 2.0, but that there must be more emphasis on planning and manager social media training to fully utilize the potential benefits, or suffer the consequences on their brand equity (Luo, Zhang, Duan, 2013). Companies should pay attention to who their audience and customers are, what their needs and wants are, in order to fully be able to select the social media platform to be used so that the value of the social media insights and data can be maximized.
Social media is still a new phenomena and it will require some more time for marketers to master it. However, there are already worrying signs that some social media platforms will disappear or become irrelevant for particularly businesses (Kantrowitz, 2013) which brings the question, by the time marketing or marketers have caught up with social media platforms, will they still exist or serve the purpose they do today? Some Facebook pages have high likes, but low engagement since the existence of paying for clicks (Veritasium, 2014). It poses another question, is advertising on social media really that much different than traditional media in the sense that both don’t really engage with customers that are actually interest in the company.
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