The current worldwide recession is undoubtedly having an adverse effect on marketing budgets and advertising spends for companies of all sizes, with many making substantial cuts as they attempt to tighten their belts and become more economically ‘viable’ in the current economic climate. This change in attitude and strategy means we are now seeing a shift away from the more traditional forms and media of advertising, towards digital and online marketing that gives marketers more accurate ROI and cost per acquisition data. Any search engine marketer will tell you that the attraction of such advertising can be attributed to a greater degree of transparency provided by online advertising and a plethora of real-time, in-depth information provided by modern tracking software. One of the most popular areas in online advertising now lies in social media and social network marketing and this is where business and search engine marketers alike are starting to realize the potential.
This area of marketing is still very much in its infancy, and as such, is surrounded by a lot of misconceptions. These misconceptions coupled with the fact that most people don’t even know where they can begin to make even the most open-minded of marketers somewhat nervous in broadening their strategy to encompass social media marketing.
To most, when you mention social network marketing, the first instinct is to think of the spam ads that appear on the right hand side of Facebook pages where the ad claims that they can make you a millionaire. These ads of course take you to a spam site full of cheesy pictures of people posing next to sports cars, which ask you for a ‘small sign up fee’ to learn how to make your own spam page to ask people to pledge money for the same service con! This is not how the term ‘Social Media Marketing’ or ‘Social Network Marketing’ should be viewed, as these ads are no better than the very irritating, all-singing and dancing pop-up windows that seemed to saturate the internet at one point. Social network and social media marketing is more of a transparent representation of your product or brand being included in social networking in a way that engages users to want to be a part of your marketing experience. Producing pages and content which engages these people and persuades them to send it out to friends and colleagues, bookmark it, and come back again and again to view updates and progressions. This is the real way that social networks can be used to better spend advertising budgets with great returns for brand building, links and traffic to sites.
When going down the route of social media marketing the opportunities to the online marketer are endless. A multitude of social media platforms now allow us to interact with people in a more communicative way and enhance our ability to manage areas of our business more effectively including customer relationships and service, market and product research, PR campaigns, etc.
Companies are starting to wake up to the business opportunities which can be gained through using social networks and social media. This is obvious with the latest ‘superpower company’, Microsoft, jumping on the bandwagon recently by introducing its twitter "ExecTweets” site which will allow corporate executives to message Twitter users. This will evidently be another great use for the twitter microblogging platform to put large companies in direct communication links with their customers.
Budgets for social online marketing currently (2007 & 2008) stand well below the spends of TV and Print advertising which have little ROI data. With the “20 Top TV Advertisers” spending in the range £1–5 million in February 2009 on TV advertising, and still spending a whopping £5–8 million on other offline marketing strategies (Thinkbox figures – February 2009) it begs the question, ‘How much are they spending online?’. Are they paying the attention needed to the ever growing market which is social media and networking?
With figures such as the reported 18 million unique visitors to Facebook in the month of September 2008 when Facebook broke into the top 5 most visited properties in the UK (Reported by Comscore) and the 220 million worldwide unique visitors in December 2008, it continues to be a medium not to be ignored. The emerging sites such as the microblogging site Twitter (which seems to be in the news everyday) are also venues which marketers are starting to recognize as up and coming social media sites to use for marketing purposes. With Twitter on average opening 5,000-10,000 every day (hubspot blog) the opportunities to reach multitudes of people are looming. As companies start to see what amazing things can be done with quite miniscule budgets they are starting to realize that social media marketing and social network marketing are two areas where, if done well, can increase the longevity and customer brand recognition which well surpasses the costly and hard to track returns for traditional offline advertising.
All in all it just shows the great and powerful opportunities created by online social media because of the multitude of things that can be done, and ways that these things can be done. The traditional marketer or business could not only get more for their money online using social media and network marketing, but also achieve things that are incomparable to traditional advertising and marketing’s rewards and benefits.
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Internet Marketing Consultant, specialising in
Social Media & Network Marketing