Personal recommendations and customer opinions are more effective than any other form of marketing. A 2011 Nielsen survey, for example, showed that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 70% trust opinions posted online. Show an online banner ad though, and only 33% trust its information. Statistics like these explain why social media marketing is hot. If your brand is talked about positively online, the benefits are obvious.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) social media marketing is different in nature from other kinds of marketing, and attempts to add it simplistically to the marketing mix will almost inevitably fail. At worst you get a disaster like McDonald’s #McDStories, and at best an ineffective campaign that may be perceived as spammy and intrusive. Social media marketing is interactive, and interactive does not just mean merely soliciting responses, but actual engagement with customers.

The snag is that customers do not generally just want to interact with marketers. They also want to interact with product designers, customer service, technical support and others who make a difference to their product experience. It follows that confining social media marketing to marketers will never yield the full benefits. Instead, marketers can be the enablers for an interactive business, and that is when the magic happens.

Small businesses get this more easily. For example, I can think of a forum for hi-fi enthusiasts where a product designer made himself available for discussion and support. Awareness and recommendations for his products have soared in that small but influential group.

How does this scale to bigger businesses? A tough question; but at the least it means breaking down departmental silos and creating channels of social media engagement. The natural next step is to become a social business internally as well as externally, fostering communities that cross departmental boundaries. The outcome is not only effective social media marketing, but that the whole organisation benefits from all that lovely customer data generated by social media.

It is a big win – but also a big change. Companies that perceive social media marketing as merely a marketing function are already getting it wrong.


Read More : http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jun/20/we-need-to-talk-social-media-mcdonalds

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