New technology and the Internet have granted individuals an opportunity to publish and communicate using social platforms and, in doing so, alter not only individual lives but industries as well.
The public relations industry in particular has learned to embrace, in order to benefit from, the ability to communicate and build relationships with various constituencies in ways that can affect a brand’s performance. Noting the sometimes positive effects of this functional disruption, other functions began using social media platforms as strategic communication channels not only to listen to conversations but to actively engage with others.
Today, companies rely on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to accomplish a wide variety of operational and financial goals. Not only do social media platforms offer a means for a company to communicate with customers, vendors and investors, the platforms support numerous objectives of a variety of departments, including four specific goals of marketing.
1. Customer Base Expansion
To sell products and services, companies must find a means to deliver a marketing message to existing and potential customers. Social media platforms offer companies a way to convey their corporate messages to an enormous audience. Using a social media channel, a company can benefit not only from the messages it transmits, but from the positive customer feedback regarding those messages and the related products as well.
When all goes as planned, the broadcast of third-party endorsements by some percentage of the current 100 million Twitter users and 500 million Facebook users will convert site visitors to product purchasers. In this way, the third-party endorsements complement a company’s traditional marketing efforts including print and broadcast advertising.
2. Customer Retention
Customer loyalty and customer retention are important metrics that give credence to a company’s target market, confirm the market’s perception of a product’s quality and the level of the company’s customer service. Consequently, a company uses social media to reinforce a brand’s values, establish a connection between a company and its customers, and amplify positive word of mouth to build customer loyalty. When successful, a company’s sales may increase substantially. For instance, of the Twitter users who follow a brand, 67 percent are likely to buy the brand’s products writes Tom Funk in Social Media Playbook for Business.
3. Product Marketing
The Facebook and Twitter platforms are frequently used as direct marketing tools. Whereas catalogs and brochures can be effective in directly marketing a product to a consumer offline, social media platforms can be used to convey marketing messages on the Internet. Offline marketing messages amplify online messages conveyed by other product promotions, such as website advertisements and press releases, and vice versa.
4. Market Research
Historically, companies have based decisions about a target market and the placement of advertising dollars on market research. Today, social media is a dependable way to investigate people’s views, a culture or the lifestyles that sway consumer behavior. Based on this information, marketers can begin to understand the wants and needs of those individuals. Once an audience is profiled, marketing and advertising strategies can be developed.
Companies have become increasingly imaginative in their use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to accomplish operational and financial goals. Beyond using social media platforms to communicate with customers, vendors and investors, companies rely on the platforms to accomplish numerous functional objectives including marketing goals.