Marketing strategy is:
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, customer value is created 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 a great tool for creating customer value.
Social media can be an important element supporting marketing strategy by using a consumer’s social network as a communication’s 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 opinions 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 like.
Social networks are also much better at creating value through increasing intangible elements important 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, 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 important that firms seek influential network members to share the company’s message.
- Connection on multiple platforms; consumers may find certain 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.
Tomorrow, we will expand on the tactics necessary to integrate social media with other marketing elements to form a cohesive marketing strategy.