Recent studies suggest that social media users are more interested in developing a customer relationship with companies via fan pages than receiving marketing promotions from these companies. This flies in the face of most business’s social media marketing strategies, which focus more on broadcasting their brand message, including promotions and reputation management postings.
ZenDesk.com released an infographic earlier this year outlining the various attitudes towards business use of social media outlets. According to the graphic, 62% of consumers have reported using social media for customer service purposes. That means that over half of customers wish to not only receive offers from Facebook fan pages, but seek to receive help from the company for various problems related to the brand. The infographic emphasizes that this is most true in retail industries.
Despite this fact, many social marketing initiatives are done for purposes other than customer service. Rather, brand management and promotions are the primary impetuses for such initiatives, at approximately 80% and 60%, respectively.
In addition to this data, the study reinforced that Facebook is most frequently used for brand interactions, at 34%. Consumers report the following five reasons that they might “Like” a brand on Facebook:
- They’re customers of the company
- In order to receive discounts and learn about promotions
- To identify with the brand and show others their support for the brand
- Be the first to learn new information about the brand
- Access exclusive content
Since the number one reason people might “Like” a brand is because they already interact with the brand in some way, it is easy to see why customer service might play a role in social media for businesses. Combine this with the fact that a full 24% of an internet user’s time on the internet is spent on social media sites, and you have a large amount of untapped potential in your market. However, simply broadcasting your message on social media sites is proving to have limited efficacy as a marketing plan.
Broadcast has struggled to be effective primarily because of the spirit of a social media outlet. Facebook, and other outlets like it, were never designed to be, and did not get popular by being, advertisement sites. Rather, the niche which allowed Facebook and other social media outlets to rise to fame was the distinct focus on conversation. By enabling users to contribute to part of a larger conversation, these sites experience massive amounts of traffic on a day-to-day basis, and it is all towards the goal of furthering this conversation.
As such, the best approach for a business’ social media marketing strategy will always work within the spirit of the media outlet itself. Many precedents support this fact, both online and offline. One offline example is that of the press release. A successful press release works within the spirit of news. In this same way, a successful social media marketing strategy will work within the spirit of the outlet it is on. Unfortunately, many companies will resist, because this means letting go of the broadcast mentality. Instead of focusing on promoting your products and services, such an approach would mean contributing to a conversation with your customers, addressing needs, and showing the humanity of your company. It is when companies realize this that their social media marketing strategies will truly begin to win.