This is the talk among travel professionals, US campaign officials, other industries and personal branded businesses. Social Media has changed the face of marketing by adding less challenges to the face of marketing but also creating some new challenges to marketing. It seems to be a double edged sword, change always seems to do this. If you know what the challenges are, you can focus on these when developing our social media strategies, and know where to put your marketing focus, instead of just coasting on the less challenging aspects.
How social media has made marketing less challenging
For all businesses, in particular small businesses and international businesses that have a global market to reach, social media has made marketing less challenging:
1. There is less hierarchy in journalism, less hierarchy in marketing dollars, less hierarchy based on business size. Journalists were the king when it came to public relations and getting reports out about your business in print media. Now there are netitizens, bloggers, online communities and clients that do this for you and can get you as much if not more coverage depending on their following. This flattening of the written word has made it a lot easier for many businesses to get noticed. It is not who you know now but who you know that a great audience and that is now hundreds and thousands of people, not just a handful.
2. Guests and cleints have direct contact with businesses and in some cases business owners so they can go straight to the source to get what they need of have questions answered in real time so they can make immediate decisions about where they put their dollars, pesos, euros…photos and videos are also helpful when making a vacation decision.
3. Opinions and reviews are online so if you want to check out public opinion about a product or destination, you don’t have too look or wait for a real person to give you this information, real people share their opinions freely online so that others can share in their experiences. Word of mouth marketing still exists and is now more inspiring than ever, but you can obtain more opinions when you go online to check out what someone has said.
4. Businesses feel like they have more marketing freedom, more transparency and more help from their guests when marketing their business. Prior to social media it was paid ads, working with an ad agency, public relations that required great contacts and even better writing skills, event marketing, word of mouth and print marketing through brochures. If you had an international client base, even more challenging and more expensive. Now you can use social media to create all of this on a few social media platforms.
5. Word of mouth marketing, what people say about your business, can now be monitored. Tripadvisor, Yelp, Open table and more third party review sites have made it possible for owners to see what people are saying and respond to this. In the previous off line word of mouth marketing, you could not stop the opinions or dispel the opinions of guests. Nor could you reward guests for being ambassadors of your business. Now you can!
How Social media marketing has made marketing more challenging
With the good comes the bad, or the new challenges that need to be faced. Social media marketing has brought in some new challenges to marketing and this is what makes it all seem so fuzzy, and hard to use or understand.
1. Creativity is more important than ever. People need to be fed more creative messages, more creative images for your business to get noticed. If you are not that creative then it is best to hire someone, but that takes money and not every business has the money to hire the most creative marketers.
2. Time. Who has the time to really do social media well? Who has the budget to pay people to complete their social media strategy. It may be for free as some people like to think, but the time factor is huge!
3. Big players still have better brand recognition so their social media continues to grow. Small businesses are still determining and growing their brand. Makes it super hard to compete.
4. Marketing is now a 24 hour a day job. There is no sleep for the weary, capturing people on the highway billbaords are not enough, messages need to be delivered 24 hours a day…..day in….day out………and with gusto, not just a post, with creativity and gusto!
5. Privacy and VIP client nurturing is over. Everything is public and everything is shared. This makes it hard to reward good guests and clients and not have others also wanting the same treatment.
6. Competition is greater than ever. Due to budget restraints and limited resources, marketing was competitive but not over the top. With social media everyone can deliver their message so the question is, how do you get your message noticed?
7. More monitoring of your message is required. Guests and clients can now create the message for you, so you are checking if your message is getting out there and you are checking what messages are being created for you by poeple, every day people.
8. You have lost control of your message. Third party sites have guaranteed that you have lost control of your marketing message. People will create their own for you, and it could be a good message or it could be a bad message. Similar to #7, you need to monitor what these independently created messages are, and hope that it is a good one!
The US presidential election is a great place to see how social media marketing and the networks that use social media can take marketing right out of the hands of the owner, whether you are a personal brand or company. If you understand the challenges, you can work around them and make your social media marketing work for you and not against or parallel to you.