is marketers’ enthusiasm for social media on target?

Social media can be great, but it isn’t some form of magic that will automatically boost revenue just because you finally decided to jump on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon. A report from Pitney Bowes – “Social media: Contrasting the Marketing and Consumer Perspectives” – further examines that fact that many marketers are diving into social media and buying the hype that it’s a “cure-all” for most major marketing dilemmas without realizing what to realistically expect.

What Consumers Really Want

Many marketers are eager to dive into the world of social media. This alone is just fine. The problem comes when marketers underestimate consumers’ attitudes towards marketing through social media. According to the study, most people prefer peer recommendations – as in someone posting a good review about a product they just bought on Facebook – over direct advertisements. Most consumers also tend to be selective when it comes to directly interacting with a brand via their social media pages. Most consumers prefer to get their product or service recommendations from the following sources:

• Recommendations from friends

• Links to product pages sent from friends

• Reviews posted online from other consumers

Spark a Conversation

Social media, by nature, is conversational. Right now, most of the message deliver going on from brands via social media is not being reciprocated by consumers. Marketing messages may be delivered to the right target audience, but whether or not that audience actually pays attention is a different story. If you can’t spark a conversation, you’re not going to get the most out of social media marketing. A site or social media page that engages consumers in a dialog that’s not a marketing presentation is likely to be more successful. In order to achieve this goal, marketers have to be able to…

• Understand customers’ individual needs and preferences

• Establish effective measurement techniques to better understand what customers expect

• Find the right mix between content-driven advertising and engaging in a conversation

Get Inside Consumer’s Heads

More than 40 percent of consumers are annoyed when they receive social medial communications from brands. Nearly 70 percent of consumers surveyed said that they would intentionally avoid or stop using a brand that “annoyed” them with their social media marketing attempts. On the other hand, more than 80 percent of consumers are wiling to at least consider a brand recommended by friends via social media. If you want to engage consumers, you need to think how they think and interact in a way that is inviting – not annoying.

Keep Content Relevant

The Pitney Bowes report finds that most consumers have a built-in resistance to blatant marketing efforts. It’s the same aversion people had when telemarketing was the main form of direct marketing in the ’80s and ’90s. You are entering people’s personal space when you market to them via social media. The key to breaking down this barrier is to offer content that is relevant. Consider posting a “how-to” video, for example, that addresses common concerns or issues that indirectly relate to your product without blatantly mentioning your brand.

Finally, it is important to realize that it’s not just enough to jump on the social media bandwagon. You need to offer content that is relevant and engaging. It doesn’t have to be all about your brand. Social media marketing is about reaching out to consumers in a way that sparks interest and generates positive discussions.



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