Cover Story: The Big Qs of 2012
3. How Does Social Media Impact Your Target Market?
Ken Lane, senior marketing consultant at J. Schmid, summarizes the doubts many marketers have about social media, saying it's being featured more, but is still "searching for the brass ring. The only person making money in social media is Mark Zuckerberg."
He is hardly the only one with reservations. Perkins, for example, opines that "B-to-B marketers are still trying to get their hands around social media, which in large part was never designed for B-to-B usage, [and that is] creating a lot of awkwardness."
Those who spoke more positively about social media did so from a customer-centric position. "Social should continue to be explored with an eye on the consumer," says Brayfield, "serving up content or offers that consumers really care about."
"Social media isn't, well, just media," says Kimmel. "Brands become more real when they are open to outside influence, in real time. Social media is just as much about customer service as it is about acquisition. It is as much about research as it is about response. It is as much about listening and observing and adapting to consumer nuance as it is about meeting short-term business objectives. As marketers are finding more and more of their audiences online and through apps, social media is forcing a structural change in our collective approach to reaching them."
That's a huge mandate for any marketing channel, and one that demands a strategy.
"First you need to understand what your objectives are with social media," says Goodman. "Do you believe that an increase in fan base will lead to an increase in awareness and sales? Are you trying to reach recipients who are heavy users of social media and, therefore, your goal is to influence those users to evangelize your product/service? Depending on your social media objectives, you can then craft a marketing effort accordingly."