Even simply over the course of my lifetime, the world of marketing, advertising, and social media has changed tremendously. Heck, social media didn’t even exist not too long ago. It’s crazy to think how quickly new technology and platforms are allowing us to progress and evolve so quickly. But with this quick change comes a need for a new approach on how to use advertising and marketing.
Advertisers used to rely on television commercials, printed ads, and even ads along the edges of web pages to get their messages across, taking plenty of time to design a marketing campaign. By the time the company releases their design, it may have even become irrelevant. Now trying to use commercials and traditional advertising is impractical, especially for targeting the younger generations. It is much too easy to watch Netflix or record a show, skipping all of the commercials, or using Google Chrome with the AdBlock extension. Without social media marketing, young people may rarely even see any other marketing throughout the day.
So this is where social media comes into play, but it must be used strategically and responsibly. Common advertising ethics are still applicable to social media, and any mistakes made could easily be amplified. For example, if a company releases a message on Facebook or Twitter that could be taken into offense (I’m thinking of a particular IHOP campaign offending flat-chested women), people will spread that message quickly, but for the wrong reasons. Obviously once a company releases a message, it can be hard to predict what direction the public takes it. That’s where strategy comes into play.
Successful social media campaigns have two important aspects in common: timeliness and relevance. As previously mentioned, outdated messages will be disregarded and ignored. Certain times of the day are better to interact on social media than others. Different platforms work better for different companies and messages. A Facebook page is a great place to start for general integration and interaction, theoretically dipping one’s toe into the social media waters. From there, a business could expand into further realms, such as Twitter or even Pinterest or Instagram, to take things to the next level. Twitter is great for personal discussions with consumers or any messages that are quick but effective. My mind first goes to Apple, who uses Twitter to answer consumer questions about products and troubleshooting. Other companies, even common-day ones like Burger King, respond to customers buying their product or talking about the restaurant to give a more approachable, personal vibe. Businesses that are more visual in nature, such as a classy restaurant or art dealer or museum, could easily implement Instagram or Pinterest to showcase their best work. A restaurant that posts pictures of delectable dishes would certainly entice me to stop by and try the food.
At my internship with South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I do a lot of social media integration, especially on Twitter, so I’ve developed many habits to best utilize the platform. For example, I tweet before and after a certain radio program to both preview the show, and later give a link to reflect and listen online. I also like to follow relevant accounts, such as ones for guests and supporters, and I like to include them in my tweets. I make use of these mentions and hashtags for trending topics, as well.
It is crucial to be aware of these current trends, especially sensitive ones. For example, comments pertaining to current issues regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and gun control require very careful wording to avoid insensitivity or taking anything out of context.Or if something happens in the world, social media is great place to play off of that event quickly and effectively. The quick turnaround means that companies can keep up-to-date with their marketing and avoid the lengthy preparation periods before releasing content. For example, Expedia created a sweepstakes for a lucky person to win a trip to Brazil…just in time for the summer Olympics. People in social media marketing thus should always be paying attention to current events, news and trends.
With all of these ideas and tips in mind, social media marketing has boomed in recent years. The potential in the business is extraordinary. Companies who may have never reached the surface could easily break major ground just from the power of the public and social media tactics. For many companies, using social media itself has become necessary to remain timely and relevant with consumers, and social media is not going away or decreasing in value any time soon, so the time to start utilizing it effectively is now.