As the recession begins to bite, marketing professionals believe brands are finding difficulty in reaching their customers. Additionally, with diminishing returns in offline advertising and apparently declining results of traditional television advertising, industry experts are of the opinion that advertising through the online platform piggybacking social media will be the key for restoring the dwindling faith of the advertisement industry.
Answering key questions on how to build a brand in the current economic circumstances, Mark Rogers, CEO of Market Sentinel, a UK based firm providing marketing advice and services, believes social networking sites with tremendous traffic growth have immense advertising potential. “Advertisers want to follow consumers and the most successful strategies for engagement with social media are for a brand to do something which allows people to pass on a key message about your brand,” he says.
Writing for his blog “Market Sentinel – Online Monitoring and Response” Rogers says that with increased reliance on consumer recommendations, social networking sites are slated to be the next advertising destination.
Citing the 2007 global Nielsen survey, Rogers says that, consumer recommendations are being considered as the most credible piece of information. The Nielsen survey indicated that 78 percent of the study’s respondents believe consumer recommendation to be the most credible form of advertising. “And there are perhaps clues for advertisers in the shift of online consumers to social networking sites,” asserts Rogers.
An IDC study of U.S consumer online behavior found that online users spend most of their time on Internet which is close to 32.7 hours a week as against 16.4 hours watching a television. Interestingly, in UK social networking sites overtook webmail by percentage of visits in 2007, with social networks accounting for 5.17 percent of all Internet visits as against 4.98 percent for email services.
If brands intend to make the best of their advertising tactics, Roger says, they must engage the consumer in a way that provokes conversation and endorsement. “People can talk about brands for three reasons. You have given them useful information, you have entertained them and there is something in your product that they respond to.”
Citing a couple of success stories of how different organizations made effective use of social media to increase their sales, Rogers speaks about Giant Food Stores which increased monthly consumer website visits by 400 percent after launching a “Super Shopping List”, which lets customers easily browse recipes, view weekly specials, and create a personal shopping list.
“Brand discussion goes beyond the product itself. The entire process and value system around which a product is created, is also a source of conversation,” Roger points out.
Similarly the jokey video from Philips Norelco Body groom raised the issue of persuading men to shave “below the neck” in the summer 2006. “The video (cross-posted at youtube.com and at heavy.com) has been viewed 1.8 million times. It boosted unaided awareness of about 8 percent and contributed to year-on-year growth of 17 percent for the DAP division (of which shavers represent 45 percent) in Q1 2007,” explains Rogers.
Describing a third success story of the t-shirt company Threadless, Rogers says that by using communities as the medium to establish its business, Threadless encouraged consumers to submit and vote on its t-shirt designs; and as a result the company recorded increased annual sales of over $5 million for 2008 (http://www.inc.com/magazine/20080601/the-customer-is-the-company.html), says Rogers.
Alongside, according to Rogers, Cadbury, the UK based popular confectionary company is an apt example of how return on investment from monitoring and responding to social media can be achieved. “Last year our client Cadbury relaunched the Wispa bar in response to a campaign for its reintroduction, advised by us. Their UK sales are up 11 percent over the quarter and the global sales are up by 6 percent,” says Rogers in his latest blog post titled ROI on Social Media.
Interestingly, according to a recent survey conducted by online payroll service SurePayroll, the majority of small business owners believe there is a clear business value in popular social networking Web sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
According to a recent report published in Media-Newswire, about 55 percent of small business owners believed online social networking has a place in the business world. “Social networking offers small business owners an inexpensive and effective way for them to connect with their customers and prospects,” said the report quoting SurePayroll Online Marketing Manager David Rohrer.
- The Importance of Social Media Marketing: Why You Should Learn and Master it.
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