Traditional marketing/advertising being done by companies and retailers usually puts brands, products and services center stage to occupy all the attention it needs to get from its audience. By interrupting ongoing thought threads via clever messages in various forms of specialized communication like visuals, audio and readable text exposed to the buying public through television, print, radio and outdoor collaterals — interest is drummed up.
Audiences, the prime commodity of advertising, are urged to decide and afterwards, prodded into action by the usual drivel of messages that marketers and advertisers bandy about. In all these tactical activities however, very seldom does the customer figure in any clever message or advertising that is presented. All eyes, as any advertiser and his/her client would want, would have to be set on nothing else but the brand, product, or service.
This used to be a successful equation. In recent years however, audiences have begun to get wise enough to talk back: “My friends on Facebook know better! I’m not buying!”
The Social Media Empowered Bloc
People who holler the same could also be talking about how their friends think the same on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Foursquare, LinkedIn, YouTube and the like. As alternative tech platforms that are increasingly becoming as potent as traditional modes of marketing, social media and content marketing have succeeded in empowering a consumer bloc capable of throwing the retail cycle limelight at themselves.
Product videos, memes, infographic material, images, audio files, blogs, SEO, company websites and all sorts of online content flood the consciousness of consumers who also happen to be avid web tech users. With social engagement seeing brands interacting with users via posted content, the equation however is a totally different one. It is the consumer hogging the limelight and initiating the dialogue in the following ways that demonstrate responses to various social media calls to action:
- Like. When content is found to be interesting by the user, there s a strong tendency to hit the Like button that usually accompanies content posted on Facebook pages. When brands do this, it scores a response point for marketer info acquisition.
- Share. Sometimes content is too good to be enjoyed by the user alone so he/she decides to share it on his/her wall so that other online friends could also enjoy the post. For brand content to be shared by users over and over means getting more mileage and media exposure.
- Retweet. This achieves the same kind of response as Share over at Twitter.
- Reblog. Basically the same Share response done over at Tumblr.
- Pin. Over at Pinterest, pinning a picture on your board is tantamount to sharing it with other followers.
- Hashtag. The # typed out before a phrase or word allows other online followers to access a social media link that’s been posted.
All of the above responses to calls to action reveal the clout that consumers have over brands to a point that they could single-handedly determine the fate of brands on social media. These are all user/consumer-initiated since no social engagement initiative or brand publishing could go far in terms of viral success if the social media community chooses to ignore it.
While it is true that all online content posted by brands or companies eventually end up in the retail cycle via the same retail telecom route like, say in a toll free call coming through a RingCentral business phone ringing in some customer service network, marketing could never be the same again. Companies need to be just as wise to switch to more effective tactics by turning consumers into brand heroes online.