The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.
Social Media, Content and the Role of Marketing
Published on Apr 25, 2011
Read 'Social Media, Content and the Role of Marketing' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Only a few years ago, social media was still merely a social tool designed to connect friends and relatives. But within the past year or two, it has evolved to include a marketing and customer relations component that delivers businesses unrivalled access to demographics and unceasing consumer contact.
In fact, the most recent Social Media Marketing Industry Report found 90 percent of respondents believe social media is important to their businesses, while as much as 58 percent claim they spend 6 hours or more each week invested in their social networking strategies.
Now, it appears as though the financial services sector is also jumping on board, using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks to connect, engage and converse with customers.
"Every bank is already involved in social media ... whether that's part of a conscious strategy or not," said Susan Feinberg, a commercial banking analyst, at TowerGroup's annual financial services conference, according to ComputerWorld. "Your clients today are using social media all the time for both personal and business purposes."
And of those business purposes, brand exposure appears to be the most important, as 88 percent of respondents in the Industry Report claimed it to be the No. 1 reason for getting involved.
However, businesses need to recognize that social media is an inherently different form. Applying traditional marketing methods - be it product promotions, brand assessment or simple copywriting - will not work, because social media is, ultimately, about content. Unlike television or print media, consumers decide who to allow in to their networks, placing the power entirely in their hands.
Accordingly, consumers want to receive relevant and engaging content from businesses and organizations. Videos, reading material, links, news stories, service offerings - these are just some examples of relevant content that is being pushed out to consumers. A dull and lifeless appeal asserting the superiority of one's product is not interesting to consumers.
"It's always best to start with the people you're trying to reach," David Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, told Inc. magazine. "Most organizations start with their product or their service, but that's an egotistical approach to reaching potential customers."
In many ways, the enormous potential of social media is a trade-off. On the one hand, businesses are afforded a means of reaching millions of prospects virtually for free, but in order to connect with those consumers, they need to develop material that suits them.
"I don't advocate spending a lot of money on marketing," Scott added. "I do advocate creating great content."