13 Ways Social Media Has Transformed Marketing

Mashable’s Social Media Day provides an excellent opportunity to examine how social media has transformed marketing. Social media has profoundly altered how marketers, consumers, the media and the general public view and experience companies and their products. Older marketing tools and platforms have not gone away, but social media has certainly created a lot of new and exciting options.

Here are thirteen ways that social media has changed marketing:

  1. Social media speeds up message dissemination by providing platforms and empowering consumers to share content in its entirety or edited, in the users’ own words, or a combination of the two.
  2. Social media has transferred brand ownership to consumers. Gone is the notion that a company can tightly control its brand(s). Rather, your prospects, customers and the general public have the power to direct and modify your brand’s perception through their experience, both directly and via friends and strangers.
  3. Social media extends your message’s reach to a broader base of prospects that may be difficult to target via other means. Collectively, these platforms attract a large, engaged audience connected via family, friends, interests and other influencers and who may not be heavy users of traditional media.
  4. Social media uses a human voice, face, personality and words to engage prospects and customers rather than sanitized, faceless corporate-speak.  As a result, this may change the content, timing and channel in which marketing messages appear.
  5. Social media encourages interaction with customers. Companies can and must respond to feedback from consumers via one-to-one and many-to-many communications.
  6. Social media provides platforms that amplify and distribute consumers’ opinion more broadly. As a result, consumer influence is no longer limited to one’s immediate family and friends but reaches a wider audience more quickly. These public perspectives may be more widely dispersed and influential than your marketing message.
  7. Social media requires more vigilant reputation management and engagement since negatively perceived company actions as well as customers comments and/or feedback can go viral. One salient example is “United Breaks Guitars”. Therefore, think about how consumers view your actions and monitor consumer input rather than relying on your internal perceptions and corporate-speak.
  8. Social media provides great platforms for just-in-time marketing through a variety of technologies and devices that enable marketers to sway consumer buying decisions just prior to purchase by offering alternatives based on location, price or other factors.
  9. Social media enables consumers to make more informed purchase decisions. As a result, they examine more options and may be influenced by a broader array of people and factors that extend beyond your marketing messages. From a marketing perspective, this results in delayed buying decisions and longer purchase processes.
  10. Social media provides more product support before and after purchase. This includes product specifics such as sizing, customer service, returns and helpful information/training that comes both from companies and other consumers.
  11. Social media enables more effective niche and micro-segment targeting across an array of attributes, including demographics, psychographics and past behaviors. Since many of these characteristics are self-declared, market segmentation is more effective.
  12. Social media has influenced the organizational structure and changed organizational dynamics by empowering a broader proportion of employees to participate and contribute to the public knowledge and product support. As a result, employees who are willing to extend themselves raise their visibility both internally and externally.  This translates to a need for companies to have social media guidelines to protect the company and its employees regardless of its social media engagement.
  13. Social media, like other online media formats, has difficulty reaching mass markets as compared to traditional mass message vehicles such as television. As a result, marketers must think in terms of integrating their messages across multiple media platforms.

As social media and how marketers use it to promote their offering evolves and expands, one thing is for certain: consumer influence and interconnectivity will be a growing and important factor in your marketing mix.

What other ways have you seen social media changing marketing? Please share them in the comments section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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