In the eyes of companies everywhere, social media is quickly becoming a clear online marketing leader. What was once simply a way to connect with old college friends is reaching new heights for both online start-ups and established brick and mortar institutions across the globe.
Part of this move toward social media, though, is the direct result of the shift in consumer behavior over the past several years. It’s rare these days to find an individual who doesn’t read restaurant or hotel reviews online before making a reservation, and with the economic recession, that practice is on the rise. Individuals are no longer willing to take a risk on a company who might not offer them the value they deserve for their money, so sites like Twitter have become the best way to find word-of-mouth style reviews from other customers.
Not Just A Consumer Benefit
While this is clearly helpful to consumers, it’s equally as helpful to companies. By providing an already captive audience, companies can specialize their marketing efforts to specifically reflect the needs of those most likely to purchase their product or services. Marketing was once often a blanket-style approach, but in today’s world, companies can reach their target audience in a matter of seconds, and with specialized content sites on the upswing, more marketing firms and internal public relations departments are willing to take the social media plunge in spite of shrinking budgets.
Stretching Marking Dollars
During any recession, more than a few good ideas get thrown under the bus because each dollar the company makes is expected to go a bit further. Sure concepts like online video and marketing to mobile devices show great promise, but they’re simply too expensive and too unproven for most companies to even consider. Should the economy improve in the near future, it’s likely more exploration is going to be seen. Until then, though, few are willing to risk precious budget funds on something that may or may not work. Social media marketing, however, doesn’t seem to be falling into this typical category.
Despite its relatively young age, it is fast emerging as the number one new choice for companies, and with good reason. Take, for example, the popular Facebook application Status King. The brainchild of a vacationing family, every forty-eight hours, a new status king is crowned, and the crown brings with it a free t-shirt. With the mantra “I want a free t-shirt,” thousands flock to it each day to nominate and vote on the status updates they’ve come across each day. Results like this encourage companies to be the next big application or site the online community begins discussing.
The Internet’s Swiss Army Knife
Companies are quickly finding that marketing isn’t the only way to use a resource like social media, though. Many are turning it into a multi-purpose tool by running customer service campaigns through it as well. While it has yet to replace other customer service methods for most major companies, many see it as an excellent supplement. By adding social media specialists to the staff, many are able to create a solid relationship with customers and clients in a way that simply wasn’t possible online in the past.
The online marketing world of yesterday looks very little like the world of tomorrow. Interaction with your client base is clearly going to be the key to the future of online marketing across the globe.