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Social Media Marketing and Darwin: Evolution or Irrelevance

Social Media Marketing and Darwin: Evolution or Irrelevance

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“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” – General Eric Shinseki, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff

The media landscape has evolved tremendously over the last quarter century. Consumers have evolved even faster with the advent of high-speed Internet-enabled mobile devices and social media. Have your marketing efforts evolved with them?

Marketing at the peak of the television era was relatively simple. There were broadcast shows that could give brands tremendous reach. There were also a growing number of cable channels that allowed smaller brands to afford broadcast advertising that could be delivered to more precise audience segments. It was easy for media agencies to find your target, and almost as simple to measure the response.

Now we’re in an era of continuous messaging that ultimately is tremendously fragmenting. Everyone is clamoring for consumers’ attention, from TV and Web content they’re genuinely interested in, to an onslaught of thoughts and activities of friends and relatives, posted via every social media channel. Additionally, consumers are smarter and savvier in their use of the extensive toolset that the Internet provides to make more informed decisions.

As a marketer, how do you possibly compete for attention within this constant stream of information? The answer: You don’t.

How do you speak to consumers who don’t want to hear traditional marketing messages? The answer: Give them what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them.

Competing for attention is simply no longer sustainable. It worked when you were basically interrupting what your target audience was doing—watching TV. Marketers can no longer program consumers with advertising; instead, now your imperative is to attract people through unique content and authentic brand experiences.

As a marketer, you need to identify the various vehicles for conveying messages to consumers, and then constantly measure engagement, as defined by each brand, at multiple touch points. Are you delivering value at this point of contact? Are you establishing a connection with the customer? Are consumers entering conversion pathways that lead to sales opportunities?

To succeed, you’ll need to understand where your brand fits into your customers’ lifestyles, become a member of those conversations and/or communities, and continually evolve your advertising efforts into opportunities to engage and connect.

There’s certainly no silver bullet approach. Content will be different for every brand. But this can be quite liberating, as you’ll have to become more comfortable with who you are as a brand and how you define success for your business—standing for what you believe in and developing content that’s consistent with the product and values that will attract others.

Everything is pointing to digital technologies and social media, even in offline experiences. The next generation of retail is a blended in-store experience enhanced by digital technologies. Is your business making the necessary steps to advance to the next stage of this marketing evolution? Are you working to get in sync with your consumers?

Sound daunting? It shouldn’t. Remember: There was a time when no one was email-marketing. And it’s hard to remember when selling products online used to be a foreign idea.

Consumers led the way then, as they’re leading into mobility and Internet-enabled devices now. Wherever they’re taking these devices, that’s where you’ll need to be—learning more about your customers preferences, and using that data to inform marketing decisions. It will be survival of the fittest—you just need to get in shape a different way.

Paul Dunay is the Chief Marketing Officer of Networked Insights, a leader in social media analytics, and author of four “Dummies” books: Facebook Marketing for Dummies, Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies, Facebook Advertising for Dummies and Facebook Marketing for Dummies 2nd Edition. You can learn more here.


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