Is social media really for everyone?
The gloves are off
As social media gains popularity, it seems logical for brand and direct marketers to reach consumers on their favorite Web sites. Our experts disagree as to whether the time is right.
Founder and CEO, Appssavvy
More than 10 years experience in digital advertising
Social media constitutes environments, platforms or even applications that people connect to and interact with, often as a way to catch up with friends, acquaintances and colleagues.
I believe social media is the logical next step in the evolution of social networking, a targeted experience that brings together people with a common cause or agenda. Networking events are smaller — niche platforms that are specific to an individual's professional needs, interests and views.
The media landscape continues to fragment and people only want content that's specific and intended for them.
Social media environments work because you can pick and choose the activities you wish to participate in. From your Facebook profile, you can play games, and take quizzes and movie compatibility tests. Gone are the days of having to click to multiple Web sites. Why take extra steps if the content can be delivered to you? This makes social media truly powerful, intriguing and useful to anyone.
These programs offer exciting possibilities for brand and direct marketers. I am convinced that social media applications are the pinnacle of any viral and contextual marketing campaign.
Brands need to play a larger role in the social ecosystem. They can engage and connect with people in contextually relevant environments, rather than spamming banners all over the place.
SVP of Marketing, Visible Technologies
More than 16 years of marketing, sales and customer experience
Interacting with customers is nothing new. Social media is simply a new channel for customer interaction, offering promise and potential pitfalls. Before diving in, brands and companies need to evaluate if they are ready.
Brands must assess how well they engage with their customers. Are they optimizing those customer interactions? Many would admit they are not. When venturing into this arena, firms should understand the basic principles of interacting with consumers in general.
There are reasons why brands or companies may not be ready for social media. They think consumer conversations on the Web or a mobile platform are a fad; they aren't prepared to learn that consumers may not like their products; they want to outsource consumer interaction to marketing or PR agencies; executives won't support it; they want to launch a blog or program without a strategy; or perhaps the company is afraid of public failure.
Social media participation is becoming critical to many brands' customer service and PR strategy. If your firm is struggling to listen to customers in existing channels, and your marketing programs are stale, social media will not help. It must be an extension of the strategies your organization has for reaching and marketing to customers.
Your customer may already be using social media. Unless you're ready, you could do more harm than good.