There are some basic principles that get lost in the cut throat trenches of the business field each time when foot soldiers adopt street wise survival tactics. The current Zimbabwean economic situation over the years has created such an environment.
This has resulted in a number businesses in the country adopting red sea framework blueprints. The concept of red sea strategies literally refers to an ocean that has been bloodied by shark fights. In the business context this refers to brands trying to out muscle each other for that elusive client.
On the other hand, blue ocean strategies are key to the long term life span of the brand. The colour blue denotes competitive business strategies based on the creation of an uncontested market space through innovation and responsiveness to market signals.
I digress but this diversion was important as I shall show later on. My specific example of an neglected principle at point is how marketers are indifferent to the true meaning of branding and how this apathy ultimately undermines their sales initiatives.
The entrepreneur.com definition of what a brand is hits the nail on the head. “Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”
The last part of that definition has ascended in dominance over the years. What consumers think of your brand is what matters today and not what you tell them who you are and your promise of value.
It is important to note that consumers always talk about brands by sharing their opinion about them. More often than not, they do so without realizing that they will be serving the interests of companies by fulfilling their advocacy role at the end point of the marketing funnel where word of mouth marketing lie.
Thanks to social media, any brand can now easily participate, in real time, in these conversations and create enthusiastic brand advocates in the process.
It is important to note that social media marketing is about taking advantage of the conversations through sincere value adding participation by a brand.
Social media facilitates this form of “word of mouse” marketing. Research has shown that consumers are likely to purchase a particular product or engage a specific service based on recommendations from their friends or their opinion about a particular product or service. Disaster arises when this perception is not managed effectively.
The trust rate of peer recommendations stands at 94% in comparison to 14% of advertisement banners as the latter is seen as a distraction and are normally ignored.
In order to effectively insert their brand message in the online conversations and effectively steer them towards the desired consumer action, marketers should monitor and diligently follow these conversations to discover what is trending and has captured the attention of their audience. These insights can then be used by marketers in the co-creation of their product or service and also the overall brand experience.
This is how it happens. By monitoring conversations, comments, feedback gleaned from social sites a marketer can discover complaints or positive sentiments from consumers and their online connections. For example they might be complaining about how the battle to open their bottled juice without spilling their contents.
Marketers then cascade this information to the product team for redesign to be effected before the dissatisfaction boils over and translates to product/ service abandonment.
Social marketing strategies are critical success factors. Many companies are doing it haphazardly and have become demotivated by the inevitable failure that arises.
Let me use an example of a soccer game. We have all seen 5-6 year olds play soccer. They all run for the ball, giggling, with no specific purpose except to kick the ball in any direction. Their real objective is fun. Flip the coin and you have your professional footballers who enjoys the fun of their trade but do not lose their laser-like focus is on tactics and goals.
The professional soccer stars epitomize how social media ought to be done. It’s both fun, creative but must be driven by proven strategies and tactics that deliver results matching business expectations.
Joseph Neusu is a digital marketing specialist with Yookos, an emerging social networking site headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is an avid researcher of digital media trends and best practices with special focus on the African markets. Joseph is a social media marketing trainer, consultant and writer and helps brands to build awareness, enhance their market penetration, promote the brand-client relationship and customer service. He can be reached on email@example.com
To learn more on digital and social media marketing, join Techzim and SocialMe at #GetSocial 2014 training and seminar. The training and seminar will be held on the 3rd and 4th of April 2014 at Miekles Hotel. You can order your tickets at www.GetSocial.co.zw.