[blockquote]With every website now socially enabled and connected, there has been a change in how our customers need us to market to them.[/blockquote]
How it will affect our marketing strategies in the future?
Sharing Knowledge and Experiences
The widespread use of customer feedback within websites, has created some of the most successful websites. Amazon, eBay, Tripadvisor, Youtube, Google, Twitter and most others entirely depend on it. This trend is also accelerating at a local level. Google Local+, Groupon, TripAdvisor and the domination of smartphones and tablets mean we can already find new suppliers effectively and efficiently and more importantly – locally..
So what is ‘Shared Knowledge and Experience’ and why is it having an impact on marketing?
Quite simply in many cases, it is ‘electronic word of mouth‘.
It is a well known fact that ‘word of mouth’ is the most effective form of marketing. An example would be a direct referral from another person, particularly a close connection, who has experienced the product and had a positive experience. However, in the same way a negative ‘referral’ has an equal or greater damaging effect on a brand. So this needs to be our new approach to marketing.
Unlike direct referrals between people, electronic word of mouth can spread rapidly and virally and emerge in places we are not always aware of.
Because customers are far more likely to report bad news than good, this can mean a forest fire of negativity.
In a similar way to a forest fire, it is almost impossible to put the fire put, though it is possible to manage the fire as best you can to stop the spread, particularly if our positive customers are able to get their message to others. At the same time, if done badly, it can have the effect of putting the fire out with kerosene and then frantically fanning the flames.
As marketers, our role is always to make sure that the positive aspects of our product outweigh the negative and that the customer is able to understand why this is the case. After all, it is unusual for someone to develop a product which genuinely underperforms existing products in the space at a higher price.
Can I control Social Media?
One common response we see when working with businesses to develop their marketing strategy, is that they are looking for a way to control social media.
Control the message, control the perception, control the audience.
This is where social media and electronic word of mouth has changed the game somewhat. In most cases, like conventional communication, it is not possible to control the receiver, we can only take control of ourselves and how we transmit and this is where social media becomes a challenge for conventional marketers.
With direct marketing, we can select the audience through profiling existing customers, we can define the message we want to send to them, we can connect our product or service to the customers needs and wants and then generate a response through our communication.
Through social media, we have to help our customers to communicate with each other and ideally, those customers who have a positive message will outweigh those who haven’t had a good experience for whatever reason – let’s remember that all companies have customers with a negative experience. You are not alone.
Listening not speaking is difficult for some of us…
How this is achieved, is driving whole new methods of communication, many are using listening to our customers and prospects as a tool to respond! This can only be a good thing in the long term for the customer.
One final thought however, is the impact this may have on future marketing. As with the massive growth in search engine optimisation during the last 5-10 years, the next generation of marketing will be ‘reputation optimisation’, where the positive messages are sought, captured and then marketed to others.
For major brands, this is already happening, though when it moves into mainstream businesses, particularly b2b it is already the next big thing.