Traditional marketers understand marketing to be comprised of four mixed facets, known as the Four P’s: Price, Product, Placement and Promotion. There are different theories about where social media fits into this picture. Some say it lies in the promotional sector with PR and advertising; others would argue that because you relinquish a portion of the conversation to the consumer, it’s in a fifth category all its own: people.
With the prevalence of social media outlets and places to rant, rave and review, word-of-mouth marketing has become a streamlined force of communications and reliability for consumers — but not necessarily for brands.
A healthy marketing mix revolves around the product and its price, as well as how its value is conveyed to the consumer for longevity, market immersion and trust. Though humanizing the brand is important, and thinking like the consumer is an integral part of gaining insight into what the next step for the brand should be, social media should be reserved for the sake of gaining intelligence, interacting with customers and managing crises. The online presence should act as an extension to already existing marketing messages,not the end-all be-all.
My advice is to consider every other aspect of the marketing mix firstand to plan the social media campaign as a complement to existing communications. It’s important to catalyze marketing messages with major channels of promotion, and only use social media to interlace those messages and help to further communicate them to the consumer. I suggest using both push (traditional) and pull (social media + viral grassroots) marketing strategies to present your consumers with a 360-degree, well-rounded understanding of your company. Here are a few ways to do exactly that:
- Use a visual ad to build trust and branding. Advertising’s high barrier to entry reinforces exclusivity and brand prestige, makes competition a lot easier, and makes acquiring market share even more simple. Some people have wandered away from appreciating traditional advertising, and it’s gotten a bad reputation for its high cost and lack of quantifiable results. And yet most people can reflect back on ads that have totally changed their mood, and if you can change customers’ moods through imagery, you can also inadvertently change their decisions, too. Remember, both PR and advertising are designed to evoke emotion, one through words or text and the other through imagery. A picture says a thousand words — and without a visual ad of some kind, that would be a lot of influential “words” to lose!
- Use social media to communicate directly with consumers. Fit social media messages into the already-existing PR plan, but add a consumer-centric twist to your messaging. For example, instead of saying, “Our cupcakes are on sale for 20 weeks with a percentage of the sale going to Breast Cancer Awareness” — which is how you might alert a journalist — speak directly to the consumer with something more friendly: “Buy cupcakes for the kids. We are giving a percentage of the sale back to a charitable cause.” It’s important to tailor each message effectively.
- Control the conversation as much as possible. Every marketing campaign will naturally have some word of mouth, so companies should give consumers the right conversation topics need to create healthy discussions about the brand. It’s important to keep in mind that consumers will naturally always have vested interest in themselves, and not necessarily the brand. There’s no reason to leave the marketing up to them — it’s not what they specialize in, but it’s your core competency. Mediate conversations by responding to criticism professionally and promoting your biggest brand ambassadors. Take back the control, take back your marketing messages, and take back your brand.