Social Media – The ultimate marketing solution or just a part of it?

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Vodafone ZooZoos on Facebook

Social Media MarketingThe Vodafone ZooZoo campaign was launched in traditional media first, before permeating the world of social media. The campaign was a roaring success. The official ZooZoo fan club brand page garnered around 70000 fans and 2.6 million page views. On May 4, 2009, the keyword ‘ZooZoo’ was the third highest search word on Google.co.in and its YouTube channel was the second most subscribed channel in India. It was a marketer’s dream come true. But would the story have been the same if the campaign had been launched solely on social media? In order to ascertain whether a social media marketing campaign can stand on its own, we need to look at the factors that determine the success of a marketing effort:

Message

Did the message reach audiences without any distortion? Was the same message delivered through all the marketing ventures? Was the message delivered effectively enough and was it in sync with the brand image? Was it perceived in the desired manner? These are the questions that arise when it comes to message delivery. Social media scores in terms of ease of delivery. However, it is not possible to predict how people perceive the message. Moreover, people are free to voice their perceptions instantly, thereby influencing those of others as well, especially if they are opinion leaders. The openness and freedom of social media means that any message can lead to a flurry of comments and reactions. This is good for the marketer in that it ensures exposure and feedback. However, it can also work against the brand if negative opinions are generated.

Target audience

The primary aim of any marketing campaign is to reach its target segment – and all of it if possible. The problem with social media marketing is that one cannot achieve 100% coverage of the target segment. Not all of India’s population is present in cyberspace. Besides, not all of them trust social media enough for messages of this nature. Of course, the advantage of social media marketing is that messages are rarely ignored as they reach mostly those who would find it of interest. Also, social media ventures tend to engage customers through activities and interactivity, making it more alive than a television commercial or print advertisement.

Results

Even if a marketing campaign reaches its customer base and conveys the brand message correctly, it cannot be deemed successful unless the campaign translates into tangible results in the form of sales and enquiries. A social media marketing campaign is measured by the number of hits, comments, participation, downloads, likes, tweets and any other parameter. However, much of this participation is merely chatter. All it tells you is that interest has been generated. Granted, this is a major chunk of brand promotion, but it is not the end-all of a campaign.

Cost

Social media scores highest in the department of cost effectiveness. A marketing campaign cannot be called successful if it achieves its objectives but is in gross excess of the allotted budget. This is a very real possibility in the case of television and event-oriented campaigns. Social media marketing gives you numbers far exceeding the monetary investment.

The Verdict

The conclusions of the above discussion are pretty obvious. Social media, like any other medium, has its pros and cons and no marketer can afford to risk missing out on consumers by ignoring the traditional media. The power of the social media cannot be disputed but unless the product itself is such that nearly the entire target segment is present on the digital sphere, it cannot be a one stop solution for marketing needs. In fact, even websites and e-shopping portals do advertise on newspapers and television, albeit to a lesser extent than other products. The answer may lie in the proportion of prominence given to each medium in a marketing mix. The media mix of a typical marketing campaign may be represented by the following figure:

The greater effectiveness of social media in the case of certain products can be harnessed by shifting over resources from the other media to social media marketing to at least 30% as opposed to 10%. Products that can benefit from better emphasis on social media marketing are:

  • Internet-based products dependent on websites
  • Products directed primarily at the youth
  • Products that depend on viral marketing and word of mouth recommendation

Social media cannot be a standalone marketing campaign just yet but in the next few years, it may be able to rival the reach of television and print. The fact is that even the traditional media support each other as far as marketing campaigns are concerned. Marketers would do well to understand the specific advantages of social media and employ them accordingly.

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