Who would have thought that five years would change the entire structure of marketing strategies as we know it? The contrast between the pre-2005 and the post-social networking era is almost black and white. Before having a Facebook account became as important as say, having an email, or a phone, companies were still focusing on orthodox marketing strategies: what colors to use in your product, where to place your billboard, how much airtime your commercials are getting. Then along came social media websites. Brand loyalties started to be measured not in terms of permanent sales, but by the amount of Twitter followers. Businessmen met not in boardrooms, but through LinkedIn. The way in which people communicate was infinitely altered. How could companies then ignore that more than 1.23 billion people were integrated in a single place? And so outbound marketing became just as important as inbound marketing.
Think about it—companies would spend a lot of money putting up billboards at various places for different people to see; they now have the option of just putting up a single ad on Facebook and millions of people would see it. Not only has this idea proven to be cost effective, companies through social media networking are also identifying their target markets. Based on what pages you have liked on Facebook or what you are Tweeting about, corporations can now define exactly who their consumer is. And with the transparency in communication that social networks presents, consumer-producer relationship is now closer than ever. Take Starbucks for example. With their “My Starbucks Idea” page on Facebook, they asked consumers themselves exactly what they want should be added/improved. Knowing their voice counts would make the consumer more secure.
The problem with billboards is that some people may see it by-the-by, and some would not. It’s a frequency of chance game. Conversely, you can bet your bottom dollar on the fact that some million people would log on to Facebook today. Where do you think companies would want to market their product?
Another strategy that inbound marketers have adopted is using YouTube for advertising their products. It costs millions of dollars for companies to buy airtime and run their 30 second commercials a number of times in a day. With YouTube, they can simply create a channel and upload it for everyone to see. They can again identify through demographics where they get the most hits from. And if their video is to go viral, then it is their consumers who become their marketers! After all, consumers talk more to each other than they talk to the companies.
Television networks, for example, are putting up show trailers and teasers on their YouTube page. They are even creating their own pay per view websites, so instead of recording it on TiVo, you can simply go online to watch your shows.
Multinational corporations, such a Pizza Hut are also using Twitter to create goodwill for their brand. This is also another great social media campaign strategy. Projects like “Feed a hungry person on each Retweet” are essentially reinforcing the brand name into the mind of the consumer; more retweets would mean more people are learning of their product. If a significant amount of people start tweeting about it at the same time, it becomes a “Trending Topic”, which in Twitter terms is worldwide headlining news.
Market success is now measured in terms of YouTube views, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. If that isn’t the perfect platform to get your product well known, I don’t know what is.