Updated: May 19, 2021
Social media marketing is on the minds of every major corporation across the globe. The impact of this form of marketing can be monumental and strategists must devote considerable effort to understanding how their brand will effectively communicate with potential consumers. Schaefer discusses information related to how to use this tool and why it is both engaging and effective. Understanding the psychology of why social media marketing can be so impactful is key to implementing an effective strategy. This article will examine Schaefer’s easy to understand background on why social media works so well, the function of social media marketing in business, discuss some potential obstacles, and finally propose solutions to those obstacles in an effort to better understand social media marketing overall.
Before the age of digital marketing, traditional media such as newspaper ads were common but marketing in the digital age has evolved significantly and allows for an immediate and interactive approach or marketing and consumerism. Schaefer gives leaders, executives, professionals, and business owners excellent advice pertaining to the role of social media for businesses. Social media has become an essential asset in the arsenal of any marketing strategist and when implemented correctly can effectively improve ROI and profitability .. This article will discuss those parameters, and how to utilize then effectively.
Social Media Marketing
One of the main underlying themes that permeate Schaefer’s messages have to do with avoiding stagnation and abiding by the status quo. A large part of effective social media strategy has to do with evolving with the ever-changing digital landscape and navigating the perilous terrain of current events, cultural ebbs and flows, and understanding what exactly consumers are wanting.
Social media: A key tool in the marketing decisions of most businesses
Since social media platforms appeared on the scene in the early 2000’s businesses have recognized the potential for improving communication, brand exposure, and increase in revenue that social media can potentially provide. The concept is simple but there is a world of marketing, metrics, and analysis that requires an in-depth examination to fully utilize all the benefits that social media has to offer businesses and organizations.
The five foundational social media strategies. Schaefer describes what he refers to as foundational social media strategies. Social media is a key tool in marketing decisions of most businesses because it appeal to these basic human instincts. The strategies listed below are effective facets typically considered by marketing managers and strategists but laid out in an easy to understand format for Shaefer’s readers.
Humans buy from humans. Social media is a personal and interactive experience. Much as business has been conducted for thousands of years, social media allows for an immediacy in response from client and business as well as potentially face to face communication. Depending on the service being sold there may be examples of work. For example, if an individual is buying a graphic design job the designer normally will have a portfolio for the client to preview in order to get an idea of the style of the artist as well and the different types of work the artist does. Unlike in true face to face interactions the client cannot hold the product physically but for some types of services and products, as mentioned above, it may not be as important to the client.
Small Interactions and the Engagement Curve. Repeated exposure to products can create an emotional bond for individuals. As Schaefer states “it's not just a brand. It’s a buddy”. The psychology behind this is the comfort that individuals derive from people, places and things that they are familiar with. As they spend more time with these products and create a positive association with them pleasure centers in the brain will begin to fire when they utilize these products. Some products lend themselves to this type of bonding even further. Specific scents can create pleasure pathways in the brain that the individual may remember for the rest of their lives. Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to scent but an individual who was bathed consistently with, for example, Johnson and Johnson’s lavender baby wash, and had a positive experience while using the product consistently is likely to develop a bond with that product/brand.
The Social Media Mindset. There are certain expectations when one enters the realm of the social media scroll. Facebook, and other social media users expect to see various posts, usually specific to their interests, content that in thoughtful which may include video, .gif animation, or simply catchy phrases in text, and a scroll that never ends. In order to really grab the attention of an audience Schaefer argues that certain elements should strongly weigh in on the marketing approach. Schaefer discusses three required elements: targeted connections, meaningful content, and authentic helpfulness in terms of business benefits.
Targeted Connections. It is important to have a great product but it is just as important to target the right audience/market with that product. This involves solid market research involving similar products or ideas, or if nothing similar exists then strategic logic involving the likelihood of the product or service being well received. The timing can play into making an effective connection as well. For example, if the product has to do with peppermint, it may be advantageous to deliver the introductory marketing campaign during the holidays. Meaningful Content. Predictable and dependable social media activity (updates, posts, etc.) is vital to stay relevant and at the forefront of consumer’s minds. The content should not be gears towards an obvious sell 100 percent of time and should include helpful tips and tricks related somehow to the product. For example, if the product is peppermint essential oil, the company may post content having to do with the benefits and applications of the oil.
Authentic helpfulness. Authentic helpfulness can be strongly related to meaningful content and has to do with building those bonds that are so important to marketing success. Consumers will interact with a brand that they feel is aligned with their vision of what a product or company should be and potentially where it is going in the future. Social media provides an avenue to connect with consumes that may give the product or service a chance, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to correct an issue that arose when the consumer gave the product a change, but something went wrong. For example, if the product was damaged in shipping and reported on Twitter, their social media marketing managers should jump at the opportunity to make the situation “right again” for all to see. This keeps a consumer happy and is also positive publicity for those who may have been considering a purchase but had their doubts.
The information ecosystem. The phenomenon of human interaction with digital technology is occurring earlier and earlier with toddlers learning how to use mobile devices before they can even read and older individuals utilizing platforms for everything from news, to product discovery, entertainment (of course) and a variety of other things. Schaefer argues that social media’s place in the form of marketing is to offer a form of human engagement that provokes awareness and loyalty in the long term. As previously discussed, in order to accomplish this, strategists must adopt a methodology based in generating targeting connections, profound content, and authentic helpfulness. Where the information ecosystem comes into play has everything to do with where people are turning to for their information. Marketing strategists should aim to have their consumers search their websites, platforms and other information streams for knowledge pertaining to their products.
Content is the catalyst. Content is a form of digital currency. Like ideas, content is shared, traded, and utilized to promote business. Content must be constantly updated and upgraded to keep up with the demand of consumer engagement. It must reflect precisely what is occurring at the time of the post whether generally or specifically. Content should ideally be a conversation starter where people feel the need expand on the topic, and by doing so they are themselves becoming the marketers. When use effectively it can also be a means to dissuade consumers from competitors’ brands. Of course, this must be done in good taste, appealing to the health and welfare of consumers not aggressively attacking competitors which is very transparent even to the lay person.
Functionality of Social Media in Business
There are several useful functions of social media for business. A company must carefully strategize their approach on social media, tailoring it to suit their specific audience/potential consumer base. Social medial is a multifunctional tool that can be utilized for introducing the brand, directing consumers to the company website for education or purchase, and remaining relevant in the minds of their target market.
Introducing a brand. After marketing research has been done and the organization is prepared to introduce their brand, they may choose from several social media platforms and media options. The methodology should be customized to suit the brand. Timing is vital to facilitating the organization’s first marketing campaign’s success. Carefully studying the successes and failures that came before this product can be very helpful as well as studying consumer responses.
A direct line to purchasing. It is not uncommon for an advertisement to link directly back to the company’s website where the product can be purchased immediately. So in this way social media is a direct conduit for sales. A company may choose to introduce their brand on social media shortly after the development team has completed the website. In this way the direct line to purchase is intact for interested parties to purchase right away. This function of immediacy is obviously advantageous for the company, but consumers have come to expect this, also. An ad that the interested individual could not click on would likely be a surprise and a disappointment and a poor approach for marketing.
Remaining relevant. One sale is good but maintaining a satisfied customer base where repeat customers are continuously satisfied for the product, and return for more, is the foundations for an empire. An easily distracted society consumed with immediate gratification demands that companies continuously remind their consumers that their product is available, greater than ever, and certainly better than the competition. In order to do this on social media, companies must devote time and effort to posting content related to their product, with anticipated frequency, for example once per day. How much is too much? There is a fine line between remaining relevant and annoying customers to the point they unfollow so the market research should include an analysis of how often their specific targets are likely to want to see updates. Some businesses may not be able to post daily, and will approach content on a weekly basis, but certainly a minimum of once per month should be expected of a thriving business wanting to connect with their consumers.
Let social media do the work. The beauty of social media is that with the right brand, product, and marketing strategy once the brand is introduced the sharing and attention of consumers should gain momentum reasonably quickly. Sometimes brands are introduced and it does take some time for consumers to really “click” with the product but other times the marketing campaign goes viral, potentially instantly. Viral product and service trends are a fascinating concept and why some products really take off at a particular time is one of the great questions on the minds of business people everywhere. Seemingly bizarre trends to items for practical use, the secret formula to success lies in the proper utilization of development, marketing, and timing.
Don’t forget analytics. Proper analytic tools can make marketing all the more effective and marketing teams seek make the largest impact they can on their target audience. There are a variety of social media analytics tools to choose from. Understanding metrics and forecasting appropriately are a requirement of successful businesses. The considerations of social media reach, ROI, volume of mentions, and share of voice should all be potential analytic considerations.
Potential obstacles, questions, and objections in social media initiatives
While social media is an invaluable tool, it does not come without its obstacles. Careful planning and composing the marketing team of individuals with a broad background and specialties can help mitigate some risks. There are potentials for obstacles built into the organization itself, requiring certain permissions and approvals before posts are published. There also may be obstacles in communicating with the audience that will need to be tackled as the interactions take place if they cannot be properly researched ahead of time. Most importantly an organization should always be striving to mitigate risk and think critically about how they can impact their consumers positively and effectively.
Manca discussed some potential obstacles of social media specific to higher education. The author shares the perspective that social media use limited and that academics are concerned with issues such as cultural resistance, pedagogical issues, and/or institutional constraints. It is important to note that there were distinctions made on attitudes toward social medial utilization based primarily on the educator’s scientific discipline of teaching. This article is of interest because it calls to light the potential of cultural resistance. Not all products or services are geared toward the masses, some may encounter significant resistance and challenges based on cultural norms and taboos. These cultural issues may be directly related to the target market or they may be related to a culture outside the target market. Also the old saying “no publicity is bad publicity” that may not be entirely accurate.
If a product is well received in the target market but is determined to be culturally offensive to another population impact on sales and revenue could potentially be significant. Social media is a global phenomenon and while trying to communicate effectively with target market it is essential to thoroughly research cultural norms and taboos worldwide. A failed marketing campaign, attributed to a lack of cultural research, can be avoided by carefully assessing the populations which are most likely to have exposure to the campaign and whenever possible hiring a cultural anthropologist to mitigate any cultural risks.
Social media marketing is essential to modern businesses interested in making maximum impact in their market environment. There are experts in the field who have devoted their lives to the study of evolution of marketing and how to make a maximum impact. Approaching a marketing strategy with proper research and a well thought out plan is one of many essential components. Businesses must sometimes simply dive into the environment and learn as they go along but expanding their exposure on multiple platforms may be one way to reach as many people as possible.
Keywords: Social media, marketing, strategy, culture, implementation
Mark Schaefer’s Insights into Social Media Marketing
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Manca, S., & Ranieri, M. (2016). Facebook and the others. Potentials and obstacles of social media for teaching in higher education. Computers & Education, 95, 216-230. https://doi,org/10/1016/j.compedu.2016.01.012.
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