Whether or not it should be called a revolution, there’s definitely a marketing shift taking place thanks to social media. As the video below says, social media brings products to consumers and turns on its head one of the primary ways in which we, as consumers, find products. If your business hasn’t yet setup a social media account, or at least gotten started with a simple Facebook business page, you’re missing a vital connection with your customer base.
Social media will continue to grow. Of course it may taper off here and there as one service wanes in popularity and another takes over, but the underlying model will be in place for several years (at least until something new comes along to replace it). What is that underlying model? It’s something akin to active rather than passive marketing. While it may seem like putting an ad on TV or on the radio is an active way of reaching out to your customers and prospects, it’s actually pretty passive. Besides commercials during the Super Bowl, most ads are just perceived as filler, a chance to get up and walk away from the TV during a program. Toss DVRs and Tivo into the mix, and it’s even harder to reach a TV audience.
When it comes to radio, you’ve got something of a similar phenomenon going on. As more and more cars get outfitted with direct audio inputs, iPods and other media players will continue to take an audience away from radio and more toward their own selections of music, audio books and podcasts. If you want to reach these plugged-in listeners, you don’t have a lot of choices that let you piggyback on their audio choices. Of course you can underwrite a podcast, but that might not give you the kind of reach you want to achieve – nor enough room to deliver the type of marketing message you want to put out there.
Which is where social media steps in. Unlike radio or TV advertising, which a passive audience can simply ignore, social media lets you engage actively with active participants.
Let’s say you’re in the business of guide books. You can use social media to search and indentify people that are into guidebooks and then develop a strategy for targeting them. In Facebook, it could mean a pointed advertisement, while in Twitter, it could mean following some people and building up a relationship. That’s the difference with social media, it’s not always an instant message that’s delivered – and, ironically, sometimes the active marketing approach takes a bit more time than the passive one.
In the active marketing world of social media, invasive ads don’t always get received well – especially through a service like Twitter. With social media it’s more important than ever to show some patience in marketing, but also to make sure that you’re using your marketing opportunity to share compelling information with your audience. It’s a lot like building your social media brand – but it’s even more about building your social media rapport, which means you have to make sure that once you start building your social media persona, you continue to interact with people that respond. That’s where the real work comes in, and that’s where a disciplined strategy is of the essence – without it, you can end up with a nice-looking Facebook or Twitter page that nobody sees after the initial push.