Being a social media manager I am always keen to observe how social media has infiltrated our daily lives. I decided to explore the big bad world of digital marketing for the purpose of this blog post. It is a long one but what with my sarcastic sense of humour and incomparable use of analogies, it should be plain sailing.
Traditional marketing, aside from employing traditional means such as TV and print ads, also works on a “top-down” basis. This essentially means that brands dominate the marketplace, positioning themselves at the top of hierarchy. Their business strategy would filter down to the advertising agencies, who would then force-feed it to the masses (i.e. the consumers). Then the notion of e-marketing came along and turned everything on its head, quite literally. Instead of the brands themselves dominating the marketplace, the consumer is king, transforming the businesses and brands into their squires, trailing after them and attending to their every beck and call. Medieval metaphors aside, digital marketing has reinvented or redefined (whichever you choose) the heart of the matter: the consumer. And if the consumer is whom we’re selling to, why aren’t they the most important player of this game?
The nature of digital media means that people are now in control of what information they choose to receive. To put it into perspective, how many people actually sit through an entire ad before their chosen YouTube video instead of clicking “skip ad”? The marketer’s job will be, as it always has, to gain and retain customers. However, keeping in mind that we’re in the midst of the Digital Age (if you didn’t know, wake up and smell the virtual coffee) and social media is where the party’s at. People all over the world are engaging in a global conversation and brands need to be taking advantage of this. Consumers want to engage with brands via social media because, for the first time, they’ve been given a voice, albeit an ironic voice, but a voice nonetheless.
Which leads me to the subject of digital customer service. Gone are the days in which you spent half of your workday on hold, waiting for a customer service representative to finish his or her third lunch break of the day while planning a hypothetical hit on that a-bit-too-happy lady who kept reassuring you that “your call is important to us”. These days, consumers are turning to social media to voice their grievances instead of the dreaded customer care call centre. Another thing the marketer has to take into account is that although the e-marketplace is bridging the gap between brands and their consumers, it’s also exposing consumers to other individuals like themselves, so if the brand screws up for whatever reason, you’ve also created your very own e-lynch-mob. And may higher powers have mercy on your digital soul.
If you take anything away from reading this I sincerely hope it’s the importance of the consumer and social media in your marketing strategy. After all, consumers have the control over what information they receive and they have the most powerful tool at their fingertips: social media.
Written by Lorian Clare – Social Media Manager