Why is the thesis of screening important for social media marketing?

Social media in today’s age is not an option but a necessity. Marketers have obviously realized this and have worked hard on running social media campaigns on various platforms to get their products the social media advantage. However, very few campaigns have been successful as against the many that have been failures or even disasters. So what distinguishes the successful campaigns from the ones that have failed? Well, like conventional marketing, social media marketing has its own sciences and often it has been the inability to identify these concepts on part of the marketers that have led to their failures. The concept of “Screening” is one such concept and a very powerful one at that.

Screening is about the consumers asking more questions instead of just taking the information as provided to them. For example if a marketer runs a campaign on social media that attempts to be doing a favor to the society while at the same time being all about the hidden interests of the company, the users will question the campaign and shun it. This is very different from conventional marketing. Conventional marketing has always been about “Signaling” – providing selective information to customer to make him/her feel reassured in your product or service. It was based on traditional assumptions that information is asymmetric in market place and that the firms would have more information than the user. This always favored the advantaged party – the marketer and thus created inequality between the marketer and the consumer. No longer though! Today, the customer is armed with multiple sources of information and prepared to ask questions and challenge you on what you say. Thus, Social media marketing is about screening and not signaling. Having understood that, marketers also have to understand that Screening will take place no matter what their marketing strategy is. They cannot make the mistake of assuming that it does not apply to their specific brand or product. The answer to the question – “Does your marketing campaign withstand screening?” must always be a “YES”.

So how exactly can a marketer withstand screening? There are two simple guidelines – Firstly, make people realize that if they do not participate in your campaign, they are being left-out. And secondly, after screening you out, people must not feel cheated. Let us look at the example of how Amazon withstood screening. Amazon had strategic partnership with UPS about the way it shipped its product where it would be in a position to provide free shipping to consumers for any purchase of $25. However, none of its products were listed at $25 on its website. They would generally be $24.99. So consumers would have to buy an extra product which would generally make the cart worth $27 or $28. Consumers were able to screen out this flaw and questioned Amazon. Amazon withstood this screening from the consumers by simply allowing them access to the cheapest product they could find on their website to ensure they could reach the $25 shipping at minimum extra cost. Amazon made its entire product catalogue available on filleritem.com where users could find out the cheapest product that they could add to their cart in order to get free shipping. This simple move prevented Amazon from failing the screening challenges from the consumers. At the end of the day it could still keep all the consumers engaged with none of them feeling cheated.

To conclude, the concept of Screening is a very important and powerful one and every marketer must ensure their social media campaign would withstand screening – if not, the campaign may very well work against the firm itself and they would have to face disastrous consequences!


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