Social media is becoming one of the most valuable tools in the arsenals of marketers and brands. They present themselves as a way to reach potential customers on a more personal level. These informal social networks allow companies to give people a closer look at their products, services and to communicate what they’re all about.
From the perspective of the consumer, these are also invaluable characteristics of social media. Before people even set foot in a store or peruse a company’s website, they can get a feel for the brand and its image from their social media outlets. Product information, company views and policies and more are readily available, and readily draw in more customers.
Brands Become Familiar
While brand familiarity is generally a goal of most marketing efforts, it is also valuable from the perspective of the consumer. Social media serves as an avenue for consumers to better understand a brand, its policies and its values.
Rather than trying to learn about companies from their formal websites and generic advertisements, social media channels serve as an avenue for companies to develop trust with their potential customers. While this is great for marketers, it is a two-way street, as consumers often like to get a feel for an organization before they trust it enough to make a purchase.
Social media allows brands to better reach the individuals that they wish to purchase their products. For consumers this means seeing less advertising that is irrelevant and doesn’t pertain to them. Other methods of advertising such as television, billboards and email marketing are less targeted and often reach uninterested segments of the market.
On the other hand, social media is a way to accurately address people that would actually have interest in a brand’s products. For instance, if you were a company marketing Xtrema ceramic cookware, you could construct a social media campaign that reaches a specific — and interested — segment of the market.
This type of accuracy in social media marketing efforts means that segments of the population that wouldn’t be interested in a particular item won’t be spammed with ads for it. This means less irrelevant advertisements clogging up your social media feeds and an easier time learning about products that may interest you.
Shift in Power
From a marketing perspective, the emergence of social media means a shift in power away from brands and toward consumers. No longer are advertisements a one-way, business-to-customer engagement.
Social Fresh referred to social media as an open conversation in which consumers can interact with brands and one another. This conversation holds brands accountable for their products and services as complaints are not longer simply submitted in private letters and emails. If a brand offers poor quality to its customers, they are now able to band together and create a crippling social media backlash.
Social media is a force that puts the spotlight on companies and their actions. The ways in which they go about business, their quality and attention to ethical responsibilities are being are all placed on a large, social stage for scrutiny. For consumers, social media is creating more accountable and trustworthy brands.