The role of traditional marketing is changing fast
SOCIAL media platforms are fundamentally changing the funnel concept of traditional marketing, where people are pulled through the different processes from awareness to purchasing and eventually loyal repurchasing.
“What we’re now seeing is the rise of the social media, enabling more diverse and intricate dialogue at every stage of the marketing process,” says James McLaren, senior manager at the global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company Accenture.
Looking at the role of social customer relations management (CRM) in business during the CNBC business programme, Africa’s Boardroom, McLaren stressed the need for companies to adapt accordingly. “ The bottom line is that it’s now a two-way conversation, forcing companies to alter the ways they were traditionally interacting with their customers.”
Yoav Tchelet, a digital marketing strategist, agrees that the nature of marketing and communication has changed dramatically with the expansion of the Internet and especially the introduction of social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. “Much of the talking involves brands and experiences, interacting with friends and family.”
Mini SA has been one of the pioneers in moving its marketing on to these social platforms. “We have approached it from two angles,” says Karen Valle, GM of Mini SA. “We first have our brand ambassadors, very active on social networks and providing a strong message in favour of our brand without having to prompt them to do so. We also have our new customers, with the potential to become brand ambassadors creating awareness of and interest in Mini.”
Commenting on the extent of the marketing value for Mini, Valle says: “It’s massive: Mini spends a relatively small amount on marketing the brand, yet through our social network exposure we get an inordinate amount of feedback.”
The Soccer World Cup euphoria is an excellent example, says Valle. “Mini got 1,2m impressions on the social platforms during the World Cup. If we had to spend marketing money to meet the exposure we had, it would have been exorbitant.”
But how should companies go about managing social CRM optimally?
“Marketers’ influence on social networks is limited,” says Tchelet. “It’s not a traditional marketing channel where you can push your message on to customers, but you have to be part of the conversation about your brand and try to direct people towards your brand. At the end of the day the social network users are forming their own opinion and communicating the brand positively or negatively. The key here is to be subtly involved in the conversation and to direct the conversation without outwardly influencing it too much. It’s all about playing a supportive role.”
Although it’s a difficult process to control, McLaren says, a good brand or message gets augmented by your community in the same way a bad experience does.
Valle says: “ The amazing thing is that if you have a strong community passionate about your brand, it will carry the conversation forward for you. This community will actually argue on behalf of the brand