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Guest Column: Nothing can help build a brand better than effective social networking: Marketing Professors, IFIM Business School

14-December-2017
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Guest Column: Nothing can help build a brand better than effective social networking: Marketing Professors, IFIM Business School

Social media marketing is an engagement with various social media tools or any other online collaborative media to generate exposure, opportunity and sales. Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites. Social networking sites allow individuals to interact with one another and build relationships. When products or companies join those sites, people can interact with the product or company. These interactions seem personal to users because of their previous experiences with social networking sites.

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and blogs allow individual followers to “retweet” or “repost” comments made by the product being promoted. Social media itself is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions. For instance, Twitter is a social site designed to let people share short messages or “updates” with others. Facebook, in contrast is a full-blown social networking site that allows for sharing updates, photos, joining events and a variety of other activities. Digital space allows existing customers to respond and address potential customers who may have concerns.

Let us assume a car brand Honda is being used by an existing customer Y for a few years and X is a potential customer for the same brand but has certain concerns. There does exist a possibility of these issues which Y would have experienced and would be in a better position to address the concerns of X. It is akin to a customer addressing the concerns of a potential buyer. A number of brands use the digital space in this manner to evoke better customer conversion rates. Many brands like Toyota, Renault, Fiat etc. in this sector have even introduced their own apps that helps promotion through addressing the concerns and affinity for the brand.

By repeating the message, all connected users are able to see the message, thereby reaching more people. Social networking sites act as virtual word of mouth. Because of the dissemination of information about the product through social networking sites, products/companies can have conversations and interactions with individual followers. This personal interaction can instil a feeling of belonging for followers and potential customers. Also, by choosing whom to follow on these sites, products can reach a very segmented audience. Social networking is a wonderful tool for establishing a brand. A reputed brand always commands highest recall value among the consumers. And in today’s context, nothing can help build a brand better than social networking. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, WhatsApp and Friend Feed, etc. have proved crucial in building a strong brand name. These social networking sites are extremely useful in promoting company products/services. People with a website, blog or online business can do much better for themselves by using above mentioned networking sites.

Social media as a marketing communication tool would enable companies to reach and communicate with existing and potential customers. Brands can leverage the digital space by customising their communications to generate further user interest and also convert potential customers into users. The digital communication is very economical despite its global reach. The cultural and language barriers are torn down by using a translation app. Companies can form homogeneous groups that have common interest with the brands. Brand can crowd source the public opinions by initiating conversations among the group members. The digital space can effectively be used as Customer Relationship Management tool and for customer queries and complaints. With reach and speed, the brand communication can bring in faster response rates. This in turn leads to extremely proactive marketing. This is the unique power of the digital space.

Social Media Campaign

The objective is to build brand loyalty and relationships. Components of Social Network campaign are being part of the conversation fostering dialogue on social networks, shift in power from brand to consumer, building relationships with users on social networks, E-commerce functionality on social network, such as Facebook, Viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing, Social network campaign Management is done through profile monitoring of fans turning on/against brands and empowered fans. Research findings indicate that a brand must use transparent communication. Here users do not want to purchase products and services via the profile page. Brands and marketers must listen to their friends/fans and any brand can benefit from social networks. It is essential for marketers to engage users far beyond the first transaction. User comments and suggestions offer real value. Great creativity is the key to effective engagement. Social ads help to build relationship between brand and the user. Loyalty and trust are the key metric not the friends or fans.

Social Media Future Challenges

Social media, once the domain of younger, tech-savvy consumers, has gradually entered the main stream and covers the broad demographic spectrum. Although the intensity of usage is very high in metros and urban areas; in the recent past the social media is becoming increasingly popular among rural masses also. The adoption of smartphones by all sections of the society has triggered the social media popularity and marketers have to utilise this to enhance brand reach, acceptance and thereby help the brand image. Almost all social media campaigns are too generic. It’s the need of the hour to come out with innovative and interesting social media campaigns to benefit the digital space.

(The authors are Dr. R. Satish Kumar, Professor-Marketing and Dr N. Chandrasekhar, Professor- Marketing at IFIM Business School, Bengaluru)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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