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Social media: Platforms are not as important as knowing the audience

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Many brands have finally caught the buzz and have adopted social media marketing in one form or the other. However, many of them have also fallen into the trap of assuming that social media is all about knowing how to use the different platforms.

Whilst mastery of social media channels is very important, unfortunately it is not enough by itself. To succeed in the social media space, brands need to become real social entities. This transformational is not superficial but rather calls for total and radical attitudinal, operational and behavioral changes across all spectrum of the organization.

So what are the fundamental characteristics and dispositions that brands must adopt if they are to benefit fully from social marketing? Companies must understand that consumers are intrinsically social beings who love to connect with their peers and share experiences.

Human connections and interactions are as old as time itself and will always be a fundamental component of humanity forever. Social media didn’t invent conversations however it has simply made it easier and cheaper for people to be in touch with their loved ones.

The best social media marketing campaigns are those that tap into the social connectedness of consumers. Marketers must create campaigns that resonate with their clients’ amibitions, preferences, pain points. The content they put out must also be shareable if their brands are to succeed in the new sharing economy.

It important to note that people talk about brands not because they love them but because they love their friends more.

Brands must also recognize that social media marketing is driven by strong relationships and trust between companies and their clients. It is not just selling that matters as these one night stands make the sales pipeline dry up very fast. These relationships are nurtured by content interactions which help solve the customers’ major pain points. Jay Baer, author of the bestselling book “Youtility” asserts that smart marketing is all about help not hype!

Another major shift that has been produced by the explosion of social media use is how brands feedback from clients is managed.Brands no longer have the luxury of procrastinating or even ignoring customer service complaints brought by clients.

Customers can cause immeasurable damage to a brand if they publish or broadcast their grievances via social media. A classic customer service example in social media is the United Breaks Guitars story. “United Breaks Guitars” is a protest song by Canadian musician Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline.

The song became an immediate YouTube and iTunes hit upon its release in July 2009 and a public relations embarrassment for the airline.

The YouTube video was posted on July 6, 2009. It amassed 150,000 views within one day, prompting United to contact Carroll saying it hoped to right the wrong. The video garnered over half a million hits by July 9, 5 million by mid-August 2009, 10 million by February 2011, and 13.3 million by September 2013.

Companies that want to adopt social media must make sure that they have the capacity and willingness to diligently listen to conversations in the community of their clients. Becoming a good listener is a critical success factor for brands in the modern economy.

These are some of the minimum operational changes that any brand has to adopt if their social media campaigns are to bear any meaningful result on either Facebook, Twitter or Yookos.

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 josephn@yookos.com


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