Marketing has always been about what people see and of course presenting products in the best possible light. Over the last several years, social media has become an integral part of marketing, but Social Media is more than announcing sales or products on a Facebook page.
The average internet user person has 7-9 favorite websites which they frequent each day. This is how a large portion of Americans now get their news. While cable news shows have been able to retain audiences through powerful narratives, most people have been lured to the internet where they are free to pick and choose the topics which interest them.
Whether people choose certain sites based on affiliation or area of focus is not necessarily relevant for businesses trying to reach these consumers. The idea is how best to understand their interests in order to communicate with them through their respective outlets. This is where social media has sort of started off a little rocky, not quite reaching a level of respect in the marketing industry. More of a tacked on strategy as standard coverage.
While every successful company has a presence on twitter (Apple, Microsoft, Target) some are a little less successful in that avenue (Denny's). Still due to it's low initial setup costs, it makes sense for any business to join the successful platform.
But that's usually where a lot of companies stop, which is the problem. It's not about the level to which a company ratchet up the twitter activity and have a group of twenty year olds pumping out sale updates. This is about reaching those other 6 or 8 sites that they're reading. And those are the ones everybody doesn't have in common.
Facebook account, Twitter and Instagram presence, your own domain and website- these are all first level efforts towards taking advantage of social media's reach. This might also include a YouTube channel thrown in there and Google Plus to be extra thorough.
What's the next level? Well besides improving any of the avenues from level 1, it would also be a clear communication pathway with the top blogs in the related field(s). Tech companies should of course give attention to the top tech blogs, but also gaming, gadgets, programmers, and as always pop culture.
Social media is about understanding the conversation happening about your products within different interest circles on the internet, concentrating on the prominent blogs or sites.
- - Identifying if conversations are positive
- - Spotting similarities in conversations between circles to identify value targets
- - Understanding the reasons for negative views
- - Craft marketing responses to address highest value targets such negative opinions which can be turned around without heavy process changes
Are your customers' complaints valid? That is a very important question which unfortunately is not always considered a priority matter for some companies.
Are we doing everything to address complaints or negative opinions? Regardless of how or why, complaints should be addressed through process or marketing/communication adjustment.
These are conversations that a group of people at every successful company should be having everyday. The objective should never be artificial short term spikes in audience reach, but rather a naturally growing relationship with the customer base. Not every company can command an immediate 2 million person audience, for most this customer base must be built over time. This takes a continuous effort to grow.
What about what Social Media shouldn't do? Under no circumstance should any Social media expert or employee ever do, propose, suggest, or even hit at "gaming" any site such as creating multiple fake accounts to vote up their own content. It often gets discovered and never works to begin with. It's a pitiful waste of time and only has the result of making the company look worse.
If a Social Media departments main concern should be for direct social media (Facebook, Twitter), company website message, influential industry-specific media (blogs), how effectively are the top companies using social media?
How the top tech companies use social media
Twitter Presence: Grade-A
Dedicated profiles for support/store/careers and others is quality attention to detail. Solid effort, quality material, fresh look, and 2.4 million followers. Not bad at all. .
Website: Grade- A
Very sharp looking, ahead of the curve with flat design and prominent displays of featured products.
Media Coverage: B
Microsoft has recovered from it's harsh year of unfavorable windows 8 reviews, poor Surface sales, and horrendous Xbox reveal. This summer media coverage has improved, but still far from peak shape with many remaining skeptical about the company's future.
Third Party Content: C-
While reviews were mixed due to Windows 8 great performance, the UI was universally disdained. This in addition to a lagging mobile OS, and displeased gaming community piling negative coverage onto the upcoming Xbox one. YouTube videos are predominately negative as have been reddit posts and internet conversations.
There really isn't reason to go through Apple's marketing, they're always tightly on message. This is because apple communities are a somewhat sovereign state, separate and unaffected by the rest of the internet's opinion. Apple fans are devoted customers.
But lets do it quickly anyway
Twitter Presence: Grade A
Sure Apple doesn't have a main profile but who needs it when their AppStore has 2 million followers and their original money maker- iTunes Music has 4.5 million followers. And they have plenty of people tweeting Apple news for them.
Gets the job done, style is simple and clean, top product promoted, and people can easily get to what they are looking for.
Media Coverage: Grade B+ Not everybody is always pro Apple (only most are), but either way Apple products always command glowing reviews and coverage from across the web. The Verge, TechRadar, Engadget
Third Party Content: Grade B
Basically summed up by apple fans vs the world. There will always be a market for what's trendy, and it'll always be directed towards a certain level of people. No more, no less.
The king of good will in the tech community even amid privacy concerns, rumored links to the NSA, and admitted relationships with advertisers. One thing is clear, people love the Goog. Long live the king.
No Twitter, just their own social networking site. No big deal
Website(s)- A+++++ Off the charts success. Billions served and satisfied. Numerous popular channels to reach customers.
Media Coverage-A++- Every product, both pre-and post release gets phenomenal positive coverage.
Third Party Content-A++- Not so much just the content on social media sites, but the huge amount of third party developer support. Invaluable. Or roughly $540 million.[http://www.androidguys.com/tag/how-much-is-android-worth/]. Android was always a welcome alternative to Apple, but it wasn't until the Google App store exploded (due to the strong dev environment) that Android catapulted in market share and value.
Long live the king
Perhaps why social media doesn't get that much attention is because it's not a solution, it's a method. Social media rewards effort, it's more than hacking together some commericals, flyers, and posting to a twitter account. If marketing is producing positive material, then social media would be the subset where only quality content will pay off.