During a visit to York University in Toronto, in the framework of activity I participated in with MBA students in the Schulich School of Business Administration, I saw a phenomenon that focused for me what I had known beforehand: today’s young people live their lives, make their purchases, examine offers, and set their leisure time activities using the social networks. They almost all have Smartphones, primarily of the Blackberry, Samsung Galaxy, and iPhone brands.
The fact that they are always connected, always updated and updating statuses on Twitter, pictures on Flickr, updates on Facebook, clips on YouTube, and advertising information from everybody requires marketers to think anew about marketing tools and their impact on modern marketing.
Is this the end of traditional marketing? Are the traditional advertisement tools no longer relevant?
The buzz word in the business world of today is social media, but many still do not understand how social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are supposed to contribute to the company’s bottom line. This article presents the possibilities of social media use and how it can influence every business, competition, and consumer behavior.
Social media are quick, immediate, and primarily popular and interesting. In many aspects, they have greater impact than traditional media. The role of traditional media (such as newspapers, television, and radio) is rapidly being replaced by the different types of social media. The control has shifted from established media to the users themselves, each of whom can now write for online newspapers (blogs), television channels (YouTube), radio stations (Podcasts), instant messaging (Twitter), and social networks (Facebook). The consumer himself creates the content that interests him.
Data published recently in the United States illustrate this revolution:
• 96% of the members of generation Y are connected to social networks.
• 1 of every 8 couples who were married last year in the United States met through social media.
• 75% of all companies use LinkedIn to recruit new workers.
• More than 80% of the Twitter users use their mobile devices.
What is their user experience? What does this say about consumer accessibility?
• The network is taking the place of email as the leading mode of communication of the young generation.
• On YouTube there are more than 100,000,000 clips.
• On Wikipedia there are more than 13 million entries, and the decisive majority of them are not in English.
The media is managed by the people themselves. There are more than 200 million blogs, and about one half are updated once a day. More than 30% address products, brands, and purchases!
A search for the twenty leading brands in the world will lead in almost half of the results to consumer-written content. Can the marketer control what is said? Does he know what is online?
Most people will prefer information that comes from other consumers. Only a few will believe the advertiser’s words when the alternative is another user’s independent experience.
What about the commercial businesses? The low cost, the mass distribution, the ease of use, and the speed of performance of new media platforms offer opportunities for companies of all sizes and types to reach a tremendous number of potential clients effectively. This is generally too expensive to accomplish using traditional media.
Imagine for a moment how much money is invested in every billboard you see for a short and negligible period of time as you drive, in a television commercial that you don’t even watch since you are busy channel-surfing, and in full-page advertisements in the newspaper that you skip over. Now compare this to the exposure resulting from your investment in a page that interests you, in a clip that attracts your attention, in a message a friend sent you, or in an opinion written by another user – all at a negligible cost compared to that of traditional advertisement.
The recently published Nielsen report presented a number of interesting facts about the use and effectiveness of the media:
• Traditional media is in decline, while the impact of social media is increasing.
• Only 18% of the advertisements on television create positive ROI (return on investment).
• 90% of the viewers choose to skip over the television advertisements.
• Only 14% of people believe the advertising message and rely on truth in advertisement, 78% believe the recommendations of other users, and 34% believe announcements conveyed on the social network.
• 36% think more positively about companies with presence on the social media.
We see that consumers say ‘no’ to one-sided marketing where products are ‘pushed’ on them and are interested in two-way marketing, in which they have influence and decide.
Modern consumption is based on independent research and information search using search engines, when the purchase decision is then made on the basis of opinions obtained from social media websites or recommendations of friends. In other words, the social media changes the purchasing habits; this is the reason for the significant decline in the response rates to traditional advertising channels.
Recently it was published that last year most print newspapers have experienced a decline in their number of copies because of the deep penetration of the Internet. Amazon noted that for the first time this year the number of book sales for the Kindle digital reader exceeded the number of sales of print books.
In traditional media we knew to measure the level of exposure to advertisement on television – the rating, the cost of an advertisement per reader, the number of radio listeners, etc. The question is: how do we, as marketers, examine the marketing results using the new media? How is the effectiveness of new advertising examined? How is a quality campaign created?
While in recent years, when the Internet penetrated into our lives, it was customary to use clear indices such as the number of clicks or number of visits to a certain website, in marketing on social network it is necessary to examine more complex means. The measure on social networks is not necessarily quantitative. The positive influence of one leading blogger, the positive connection between the surfer and the product, the types of responses, the level of involvement in the brand – all these can influence and be more significant than a large number of people exposed to the message.
When we go to examine the different tools that enable analysis and quality management of the marketing constellations on the networks we must examine a number of parameters:
1. The ongoing flow of data regarding the brand and the different interactions in the different media, in blogs, forums, websites, etc.
2. Identification of the different mentions of words and displays relevant to our product, positive or negative trends and references.
People use the social networks to meet other people, not to see marketers’ advertisements. Therefore, the marketers’ ‘communication’ must be most creative, understand exactly what the community wants, and provide a solution. Therefore, it is necessary to have:
3. Access to the different networks with the ability to cross-reference them, since different marketers, consumers, cultures, and countries have essentially different social network use practices.
4. Mastery of the types of messages the company conveys and their ongoing and immediate suitability to the diversification of the discourse.
5. Mastery of quantities of information and classification according to criteria of importance.
6. Different languages and cultural adjustments, if this is an international brand.
The social media leads to social change, in the nature of marketing, and change in the way in which the business and the brand operate and are managed. The social media is, for marketers and managers, the marketing of tomorrow. Companies attempt to discover how to speak not only to their consumers but also to their workers, their investors, and their public – in the most authentic manner. The integration of social media into the principles of business communication is a growing and important field. Therefore, it is essential to understand the factors that characterize a better or more successful media campaign. How is such a campaign created? What are the characteristics and the key points in the design and execution? Only tools that enable the integration of quantitative analysis along with qualitative analyses can indicate the marketing effectiveness and enable a relevant campaign to be conducted on the social network.
It is too early to eulogize traditional media but it is necessary to remember that it is developing. According to new research studies, the new media are giving the marketer a better return on investment (ROI). The research shows that traditional marketing strategies cause people to go to the company’s website and to examine the product using the social network. In other words, traditional media still have an important role in the creation of brand awareness and in pushing the consumers to search for relevant information about the product.
Following the changes in the field, in the near future we will not look for products but rather they will find us through the social networks. Social media, let’s face it, are here to stay. So let us learn to analyze what happens there…