A key element that makes social media trustworthy is that it represents someone’s sincere opinion. The authenticity of word-of-mouth is clearer and louder than any form of advertisement.
Websites, blogs and twits that have many users, can nowadays sell their blog and tweet posts to the companies that realise the value of internet reaching a substantial audience. IZEA, in its social media sponsorship research published last August 2011, states that marketers worldwide nowadays put a monetary value on the different types of social media sponsorships.
To keep their site mentioned on the web they offer an average of $150 per blog post or video posting and $70 per tweet or a Facebook update. Some social media consultants, public relations professionals and marketers make a good living of the social media sponsorships.
Social media sponsorship can be a controversial practice, particularly if bloggers do not disclose that they receive compensation for a product or brand that they mention within their posts.
Consumers see thousands of messages in a typical day (including TV, newspapers and billboards exposure). In an effort to break through this amazing advertisement clutter, marketers are creating even bigger, louder and flashier messages. This solution is of course simplistic and narrow minded, and the audience is constantly seeking to unplug from this advertisement grid and escape the constant bombardment.
Hard selling techniques are aggressive. They corner the audience making people feel pressured. Soft selling strategy focuses on relationship building, brand awareness, and problem solving. It is a much more toned down approach that takes more time but builds relationships in the long term.
Hard selling within the social media sites infringes in one’s web-space and it is likely that it will meet resentment. If an individual is an established expert, web visitors come to read the web content because it offers answers to their problems. Hard selling within this environment will just make the audience lose the valuable interest.
So what is a solution to ‘deaf ears’ for the smaller companies that do not have a hefty advertisement budget? The marketing agencies are in constant search for smarter, different, catchier and honest ways to present their products.
Guerrilla marketing is a marketing term used for the marketing campaigns that are unconventional, innovative and not expensive. Typically, a guerrilla marketing campaign targets consumers in unexpected places and it relies on imagination rather than a big marketing budget.
It catches its audience off-guard and its heart is in its creativity. To demonstrate the design of their living room, a Swedish furniture company Ikea transformed a bus stop into a living room area offering its audience cookies while they wait for their bus and an unusual place to relax.
Utilising the social media marketing techniques represents one of the best guerrilla marketing strategies because internet has great audience reaching potential and it is relatively inexpensive. Many guerrilla marketing ideas involve customers, offering them rewards if they “like” the product or idea on Facebook or “re-tweet” the information on Twitter. These updates can circle the Earth a few times in a week, giving a local business truly global exposure.
An example of a digital brand that heavily utilises social media is Zappos, an online shoe shop that has 1.7 million Twitter followers and exists on more than 9,000 Twitter lists.
Worldwide trends stay puzzling. Total advertising spending is currently a figure of around €500 billion per year. Groupon (an online trader focusing on discounted offers via coupons) has 21 million subscribers, 20.25 million coupons bought, available in 150 + cities, and saved $850 million for its customers. Facebook revenues are estimated at nearly $1.4 billion in 2010. Prada estimates that within five years about 40 per cent of its revenue in the US will be from internet. Amazon.com analysts are estimating a 25 per cent growth over the next five years for their online shop.
In Malta, most of the companies don’t know enough about social media to know where to begin. However, the international trends are providing clear pointers as to where the immediate future lies.
Ms Pantovic is marketing consultant at Alert Communications, a local web development company.