Marketing in today’s environment is truly an Aldous Huxley-esque “Brave New World.” With the meteoric rise of social media and other emerging marketing tactics, the consumer audience is changing before our very eyes, altering its behaviors, preferences and skill set for gathering information and making buying decisions. This ever-changing consumer/media landscape is forcing a decidedly dramatic shift in the world of marketing.
As apartment marketers, our average renter is aligned with—and in fact comprises the largest percent of—the “social media user” demographic. We are keenly aware of this shift in marketing! I enjoy reading and learning about how other companies outside our industry are handling social media. Recently, I ran across a fascinating report from Equation Research which offers insights into marketing changes, identifies trends and offers some useful and actionable ideas for marketers in this new age.
When talking about Social Media in particular, the report states that if one could sum up sentiments in two words, it would be “boundless enthusiasm.”
‘Boundless’ in the dual sense of unrestrained and largely undirected, and ‘enthusiasm’ in its simple, purest form. [Marketers]…are all embracing the world of Social Media. Not only are many companies either currently executing on strategy, many are planning and most are serious in allocating substantial time and resources to this space.
The study goes on to advice marketers looking to start a Social Media program and businesses trying to help, that, “navigating the waters can be difficult.” They discovered common themes in their research, and suggest a few practical, useful navigational aids:
1. The need for a framework… In the Social Media space there is a clear opportunity to provide Marketers with ways to connect ideas/themes together. This isn‘t necessarily a one-sentence description of Social Media, but rather a map of consumer interaction, technology and tactics that provides a better framework for understanding the Marketer‘s position in this complex social net.
2. The need for a proper business process… To implement a successful Social Media strategy, issues of knowledge, resource/time and measurement must be addressed first. Just ‘learning the tools’ will not be effective unless the business loop is closed with proper resource allocation and measurement feedback.
3. You might have to herd cats… For many companies, building a Social Media strategy will be more about harnessing and coordinating disparate efforts than beginning from a clean slate.
4. You need to balance your left and right brain… With different tools and tactics in wide use, measurement is understandably dispersed. Yet there is an acceptance that both hard and soft measures need to come to bear to assess success.
5. Be prepared to scale… Online channels, at nearly a third of all spend, are a significant proportion of the Marketing budget and growing. Given the interest and momentum behind Social Media efforts, we would expect to see its allocation rise. As efforts begin to bear fruit, current plans need to scale well, and should be built with this in mind.
6. Social Media is not a channel… Even though we have used that term throughout this report to describe Social Media in the context of other tactics, it‘s not a channel. There is no easy translation of a traditional Print, TV or even Online campaigns to the world of Social Media.
To further pique your interest, just a few of the questions answered in the survey are found below. Responses are chock-full of details and stats–thoroughly an interesting read!
- How do you define Social Media?
- Is your company currently using or planning to use Social Media?
- What are the greatest barriers to Social Media in your company?
- How are you measuring effectiveness of Social Media efforts?
- You mentioned Social Media is part of your Marketing activity, what specific tools and services are you currently using?
For the complete report, click here.
Survey Methodology: Email invitations sent to over 50,000 marketing professionals to take part in a ten-minute online survey. Respondents targeted from marketing industry contact lists provided by Equation Research, AdWeekMedia Group and Authentic Response. A total of 1,469 respondents representing advertising/marketing agencies, brands, non-profits, consulting firms and research suppliers took the survey, with responses collected from June 3rd-July 2nd, 2009.