It's no secret that technology has helped to force a major cultural shift in society over the past two decades. Things that were once undreamable are basic day-to-day reality for a lot of us. Today, the internet is so ubiquitous in our lives that the way we discover and consume information has forever changed.
A good way to judge this impact is to ask yourself a few simple questions.
"When was the last time I used an actual phone book to look up a local business?”
“When was the last time I used a paper map to find my way somewhere?”
In its formative years, the World Wide Web was primarily a one-way exchange of information. At its core, the internet was a platform founded on connecting people with information. If you needed to find information on a local restaurant for example, you used a search engine and found what you needed. Of course, this is still a large part of the web, but in the past ten years, we have seen the focus shift from connecting people with information, to connecting people to people.
This 'networking' and 'sharing' of information is largely made possible by a new breed of tools called 'social networks' which allow people from all different walks of life to connect with others and share information in a more natural and organic way.
Of course, this cultural shift has opened up huge new opportunities for businesses to market their products and services.
Traditional marketing is typically what is referred to as 'interruption' marketing.
When you pay for a spot on radio, purchase tv advertisements, send out email marketing or even set up a Google AdWords campaign, you are paying for the opportunity to 'interrupt' what a customer is doing at that moment in time, in an attempt to capture their attention and hopefully create a sales opportunity.
With 'interruption marketing' you only have a brief window of attention with a potential customer, because you are essentially imposing your brand or company into their lives when they aren't necessarily needing or wanting it.
If you think of the internet as one big cocktail party, traditional marketing could be seen as the equivalent of walking up to a group of people who are already talking and then shouting your product name into the circle. We all know that guy.
Now, obviously this type of marketing is still hugely popular and still works, but as a marketing strategy, it all comes down to the numbers. At every party, there will be a percentage of people who might be interested and might buy your product. If you visit enough circles of enough people, you will get results.
Current research however shows us that response rates for traditional marketing have been decreasing in recent years and will continue to do so in the future, making it tougher and tougher to get results from the tried and tested channels.
Social media marketing comes from a different mindset entirely.
It is widely known that product reviews or personal referrals from friends and family are powerful sales conversion tools. It’s proven that we take the advice and recommendations of our peers much more seriously than some marketing speak from a company themselves.
By engaging with your customers over social media you have the ability to jump right into that conversation at a one-on-one level, creating a meaningful connection with them like never before. By using these social media tools, you can create your own personal referral network for your business. Exciting, right?
For the first time, you can now ‘join the circle’ at the party (so to speak) and give ‘real value’ to your customers, helping them to solve problems, giving them advice or offering suggestions about your products.
Here is a quick ‘who’s who’ of social networking platforms.
Founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, Facebook is the one social network that eclipses them all in terms of sheer number of users with over 11 million Australian users and 700 million worldwide.
A relative newcomer to social but powered by the biggest hitter in the internet world, Google+ is a favourite amongst business and technology oriented folks. With a full set of features it is taking more and more market share of personal social from Facebook all the time.
Merging the idea of SMS into a web-based social network was a brilliant move for Twitter with over 2 million users in Australia alone.
The more serious big brother of Facebook, LinkedIn is completely focused on a professional user base.
A relative newcomer to the social media scene, it quickly became a hit with foodies and craft lovers who thrive in its visually oriented environment.
How do I learn more? Over the coming months, we will be delving into each of these powerful channels in detail over a series of articles, so keep an eye on our social media and here on our website!
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