To understand whether social media marketing fulfils the purpose of overall marketing we need to understand the reason why social media marketing is done. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons –
1) Its cheap. Where a TV commercial based campaign which costs anywhere around 250,000 dollars in USA, social media marketing campaign can be carried out in 25,000 dollars. That’s just one-tenth.
2) Need to draw attention of the customers by starting a viral, popular idea or concept. Which is going to add to the brand recall.
3) Want to issue a bold statement that you are a forward looking company which understands the trends and like to move with the times.
4) To involve more and more customers by innovative and interactive methods and implicitly educate them about your products.
5) Spread publicity about the product by utilizing the network effect of social media.
6) Build credibility by proving fair in the screening effect. Social media users do not restrict themselves to sharing information about a product as it is communicated by the company. They tend to voice their opinion along with it and often ending up with bursting a brands popularity. Brands strongly committed with fairness in their communication can utilize this effect to build credibility and thus following.
So those were some of the reasons why brands want to join the social media marketing bandwagon.
Yes, one seemingly obvious reason appears to be missing. That reason is – To build brand awareness.
Building brand awareness is a difficult task when it comes to social media marketing. The digital space rides the wave of trends and simple fact of what’s interesting and what’s not. People tend to remember what and not who. Many brands have tried and some have survived it too but empirical data goes against it. Even, for the brands which have seen success in doing it have been successful with a limited niche segment.
Yet another way in which social media marketing does not translates into actual sales is because users online usually speak as their ideal self, what they aspire to be and not necessarily what they actually do. Comparison of Cheerio and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes reveals this phenomenon.
Thus need for conventional ways of marketing still exists. Mere social media marketing does not ensures that all the aspects of marketing are taken care of.
Lets look at it from typical marketing management 4P framework’s viewpoint –
Product – Yes you can study, trends, what people actually want and then shape your product. Social media does help here. For e.g. Waze, customers help build most of the product.
Promotion – Yes, except for building brand awareness, it can be used to generate brand recall.
Place – Generally difficult as usually the product is physical and delivery cannot be governed by social media users. In case of digital products yes it is possible.
Price – Rarely, in case of auctioning model. But not very successful examples are available.
Thus for social media to efficiently encompass all the marketing activites looks difficult. It may be successful in executing some of them upto certain extent but all of them together is a long shot.