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Social Media Marketing: Friend or Foe?


 

Social media marketing has been all over the internet for the few past years and, if you haven’t figured it till now, it is high time for you to capitalize on SMM! With the advent of new technologies, chances are that SMM is here to stay. SMM is a great way for SMEs to connect with their audience and even develop a consumer persona. It is by far less costly than advertising and allows more flexibility in terms of strategy. Yet, as remarkable as it might sound, marketers should be vigilant when it comes to irrelevant content or data deluge. This article highlights the opportunities and obstacles when dealing with SMM.


Social media marketing is about connecting people with brands thus, building customer retention through engagement. Social media has provided a reliable space for businesses to interact with potential customers. This would have been practically impossible ten years ago. With the right content and tools, businesses can build a lifetime relationship with a target audience without spending millions. Social media platforms make it easy for marketers to keep track of their brands' success through insights. Marketers can decide when is the best time to post, who are their potential customers and so on. It is also a low-cost strategy in contrast with advertising.


A Strong Presence


The benefits of this novel approach of marketing are numerous but the most significant remains the fact that businesses can have conversations about their goods and services at virtually any time of the day. The interaction between companies makes the targeted audience feel valued. It is precisely this social currency that encourages consumers and users to recommend a brand and this is surprisingly sufficient for a brand or its product to go viral.


The Human Touch


This form of marketing remains key to the growth of small and medium enterprises. Businesses with a genuine purpose and carefully crafted messages can reach thousands of customers but the key is to remain relevant and to ensure that the targeted audience desire this bit of knowledge. The challenge remains the human element when interacting with the audience. Using automated posting software allows businesses to establish a 24/7 presence but this has been criticised due to the lack of human interaction. Many businesses tend to overlook the purpose of consumer service which is more important in customer retention than marketing strategies. Customers can feel that they are nothing but just the next prey of some brand; brands run the risk of being perceived as part of the problem rather than a solution due to data deluge.

Aligning Business Values with Content


Businesses should be aware of major trends and events in order not to share something that may be deemed inappropriate. Using social media can be tricky, therefore businesses should be extra careful whenever they share content related to current issues. Capitalizing on movements is a risky move that should be considered only if the values of a brand align with the message of a movement, else brands should refrain from curating anything related to the event to dodge possible backlash.

Brand Parity


The other hazard is the over-saturation of products and services from brands that are already in a better position than striving brands. For smaller businesses that rely mostly on an organic reach, it might simply not be possible to acquire the desired support without sufficient capital. Hence, it is fundamental to invest in content that distinguishes your product or service from the rest. Standing out in a pool of data is crucial. You want your audience to remember your brand and forget about the rest.




Exposure to Brand Damage


Since traditional media allowed only one-way communication, chances that the reputation of a brand could be ruined within a few hours were faint, but now that customers have acquired a voice they can easily leave reviews and cause irreparable damage to a brand. For instance, various brands were condemned for using the BLM movement in 2020 as tokenism to show support. What was highly unexpected was the backlash that followed within a couple of hours of their claims. The worst part is that users managed to find relevant data to support their claims and exposed these brands. (e.g. L’Oreal Paris, Jacquemus, Pretty Little Thing)

Social media marketing offers numerous opportunities for budding businesses to develop brand equity. Brands can differentiate their products or service from other brands by analysing their competitors' tactics and create a marketing strategy accordingly. Marketers should keep in mind that marketing trends are prone to change and it is, therefore, essential to experiment to stay ahead of competitors. By developing a customer persona, marketers can put themselves in the shoes of their potential customer and focus on brand resonance. It is imperative to focus on building loyalty through which businesses are more likely to have a high rate of customer retention which in turn converts to word of mouth marketing and sales.

Lawlor, A., 2014. Is social media automation hurting brands? The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/sep/02/is-social-media-automation-damaging-your-brand [Accessed March 11, 2021].

Ritschel, C., 2020. Pretty Little Thing sparks backlash with 'inappropriate' illustration of 'jet black hand'. The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/pretty-little-thing-hand-twitter-racism-skin-colour-minneapolis-protests-a9539456.html [Accessed March 12, 2021].

Wainewright, P., 2013. Social media marketing starts within a business. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/salesforce-partner-zone/social-media-marketing-starts-within-a-business [Accessed March 11, 2021].

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