is a process that can allow an organization to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. A marketing strategy should be centered around the key concept that customer satisfaction is the main goal. (Wikipedia)
To achieve organizational goals, firms need to not only create customer satisfaction (or better, customer delight) but creating customer value. Examples of elements a firm provides which increase customer value are tangibles, such as:
- Product and service quality
- Value pricing
- Differentiated products and services (uniqueness)
- Enhanced benefits, such as usability, functionality, etc.
In addition, c when customers receive intangible elements in the exchange. Intangible benefits include:
- Feelings of belongingness or togetherness, such as being a valued member of a group or family
- Feelings of comfort, such as safety, nostalgia, familiarity
- Feelings of respect, such as having people look up to you
- Feelings of specialness
- Feelings of cultural identifications, such as patriotism
- Feelings of accomplishment
Importantly, consumers make product decisions based on both tangible and intangible aspects of the product or brand.
How Social Media Creates Customer Value
Social media can be an excellent tool for creating customer value.
Social media can be an essential element supporting marketing strategy by using a consumer’s social network as a communication channel, to spread information about the brand’s characteristics, its quality, its value … A consumer often trusts the opinions expressed by members of their social network more than commercial messages, such as those coming from commercials or public relations. They also feel the views of members of their social network are valuable since they believe their friends are like them, and they will probably like the same things their friends do.
Social networks are also much better at creating value through increasing intangible elements essential for the consumer. Hence, when the consumer goes to a restaurant recommended by their Facebook friend, they may not only be doing so because they value the opinion of their friend, they may also be doing it to share experiences with their friend. They may feel a sense of belonging to the group by sharing their experiences. Going to the restaurant may make them feel part of this group of friends.
Social networks also create meaning for network members. This shared cultural meaning informs consumers as to appropriate behaviors, which encourage them to emulate their friends.
Implementing a Social Media Marketing Strategy to Create Customer Value
Using social media to create value requires:
- Engagement with consumers; consumers should be encouraged to share with the organization such that conversation is a two-way street rather than the firm “talking” at the customer as is common in advertising.
- Information exchange; not only must companies provide more information about their brands and their company in social networks, and they should be more open with members of their social network — making them feel like insiders.
- Encouragement for social network sharing; companies need to seek out network members willing to share the company’s message with their network, not just receive the company’s message themselves. It is especially vital that firms seek influential network members to share the company’s message.
- Connection on multiple platforms; consumers may find specific platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. more valuable. Firms should seek to engage customers across these multiple platforms to ensure their message reaches potential customers.
- Integration of social media with other marketing efforts of the firm.
Social media marketing strategy
Social media is an increasingly widespread tactic to achieve marketing goals. But, like a hammer, it’s only good at some things, and to be effective social media needs to be part of a broader marketing strategy that uses other tactics, as well. Integrating these marketing tactics is termed Integrated Marketing Communications. But, marketing strategy goes beyond simple communication strategies, such as social media marketing, advertising, and promotion. A marketing strategy combines these communication strategies with other marketing tools to reach organizational goals.
Today, we’ll focus on integrating social media marketing with other communication tactics, and in later posts, we’ll focus on building an overall marketing strategy combining various elements of the marketing mix.
Elements of Communication Strategy
Classically, we talk about:
- Advertising – which consists of media, including social networks, broadcast media, internet marketing, and print media.
- Promotion – consists of contests, coupons, discounts, promotional items, sponsorships, etc.
- Public Relations – which is unpaid advertising through media. Social media marketing might fit into this category, as well.
- Personal Selling – which involves using trained sales agents to promote the firm’s products and services.
Because the preferred goal is to coordinate across these efforts, most communication strategies consist of combinations rather than individual elements.
This gives us our first important aspect of social media marketing.
Social media marketing is most effective when combined with other communications strategies, rather than being used in isolation.
For instance, using your print advertising to encourage fanning on Facebook would be an example of combining across social media and other advertising. However, this is not a particularly valuable way to combine social media with other elements to create an effective marketing strategy.
Integrating Social Media
The overriding principle of integrating social media into your marketing strategy is to use the right tool for the right task — like a hammer works a lot better to nail something than to turn a screw. So, what does social media do well:
- Build community and relationships
- Build credibility and trust
- Harness the power of word of mouth
- Create awareness
- Share information
Social media is not so good at:
- Public Relations
- Sales, although that might be changing.
That’s why social media should be combined with other communication strategies to optimize its effectiveness. Here are some ways to integrate social media effectively with different marketing strategies.
- Contests are particularly useful in social media because they encourage sharing among members of a social network. Supporting these contests through traditional advertising and PR are also proven marketing strategies. For instance, Dunkin Donuts is giving away a trip to Costa Rica or free coffee for a year to winners of their contest. Key elements of this contest are that entries must be in the form of a video uploaded to their Facebook page and that Fans of Dunkin Donuts vote for the winner. This encourages sharing and creates valuable content that drives more traffic to the site that firms can use in future advertising efforts.
- Firms can upload product advertising to YouTube, where it might be picked up by individuals and shared on their social networks. For instance, the “Axe Ball Spray” commercials have been viewed millions of times from YouTube. These commercials have received thousands of comments and been uploaded millions of times to Facebook profiles.
- Firms support event marketing through Twitter hashtags. These tags allow attendees to share information about the event (before, during, and after) with their social networks. DC Digital Capital Week used the hashtag #dcweek as a tool linking across its week-long functions at various venues.
- Similarly, events can use LivingSocial or Groupon to gain attendance. The additional advantage is that attendees are encouraged to share their participation in social networks like Facebook and Twitter. If they get their friends also to attend the event, they can get their payments refunded. A great incentive to share with their social networks. Combining these social media with your advertising doubles your impact, but the integration is most effective if each advertising effort includes reference to the other.
- Blogging can be a great way to support your sales and marketing efforts. For instance, I recently worked with a client who used their blog as a means to connect with prospects. By sharing information of interest to these prospects and highlighting the efforts of these prospects, the client was able to establish “top of mind” recognition that encouraged prospects to request a sales presentation when they needed services provided by my client.
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