The basic purpose of marketing never changes. And that purpose is to bring in more revenue/sales for a brand or a product. This is attempted in a number of ways by generating more awareness, promoting the product and creating a strong brand recall and recognition. Times have changed and internet has brought in a new channel of promotion and customer engagement. Social media is a new platform adopted by businesses as an important business strategy and is undeniably becoming more important day after day to create more demand, to engage customers better, to enrich customer’s experience and eventually increase customer retention and loyalty. Social Media Marketing differs from Conventional Marketing in a number of ways.
Conventional mediums of Marketing like TV, newspaper ads, etc., are fixed in nature and most of the times are unchangeable once published or broadcasted. However social media messaging or marketing is instant and can evolve (usually with the help of feedback and responses received from the user). The user plays a key role in participating in the whole marketing process and often is responsible for the success (knowingly or unknowingly).
In conventional marketing, the reader/viewer/listener is passive in the communication process and often the communication is one way. The only way around the advertising is to turn the channel or page. Whether you want the ad or not, you get it. However, with social media you are prompted to interact with the marketing whether it’s clicking on the ad or commenting on the post or Tweet. Both conventional and social media marketing intend a response from the buyer. But the immediacy of the response might vary. In conventional marketing, the customer must often wait to take an action like make a call or go to the store to buy the product. In social media marketing, the response can be immediate such as sharing the post, liking it or responding to it.
Conventional marketing is targeted usually on a mass scale to attract potential users or followers. However social media marketing starts with the existing user base or followers of the brand and encourages them to be part of the marketing campaign as contributors and advertisers of the brand (positively or negatively)
Real time communication and feedback/response is not possible in conventional marketing and there is usually a time lag in knowing the impact of the marketing campaigns. However on the other hand, SMM is more responsive and instant. The marketers can respond quickly and can get a fair idea of the direction in which the campaign is trending and can take immediate action if required.
Conventional Marketing is very expensive as it is usually done on a mass scale. In comparison, Social Media Marketing is less expensive, it can be more targeted and thus can give better returns on investment.
Customers are getting more educated and demand companies to be more transparent. They want to know more about the brands and the ideologies behind them and the mission and vision that underline them. In the past, companies divulged only that information that they seemed relevant and often were in control of what they said and how they said it. The customers were often in the dark and had to other way of knowing more about the company. These days’ social media offers a more level playing field to everyone. Customers demand more information and more straightforward and instant responses to their queries in real-time. Companies have to respond to each and every customer because it is out there in the open for everyone to view and judge. If the companies do not respond favourably, it could mean shrinking of the customer base or decline in the reputation that could harm businesses severely.
Thus it can be concluded that due to its numerous unique benefits, Social Media Marketing is the new pillar of Marketing that companies can’t choose to avoid if they want to strengthen their customer engagement.