Interacting with Your Customers
Now that we've learned a little about e-business and e-commerce, read about the importance of interacting with customers paying particular attention to the section about social media marketing. You'll better understand why businesses are using social media to promote their products and what their goals may be.
In the last five years, the popularity of social media marketing has exploded. Most likely you already know what social media is – you use it every day when you connect to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or any number of other online sites that allow you to communicate with others, network, and bookmark and share your opinions, ideas, photos, and videos. So what is social media marketing? Quite simply social media marketing is the practice of including social media as part of a company's marketing program.
Why do businesses use social media marketing? Before responding, ask yourself these questions: How much time do I spend watching TV? When I watch TV, do I sit through the ads? Do I read the newspaper? What about magazines – when was the last time I sat for hours reading a magazine, including the ads? How do I spend my spare time? Now, put yourself in the place of Annie Young-Scrivner, global chief marketing officer of Starbucks. Does it make sense for her to spend millions of dollars to place an ad for Starbucks on TV or in a newspaper or magazine? Or should she instead spend the money on social media marketing initiatives that have a high probability of connecting to Starbucks's market?
For companies like Starbucks, the answer is clear. The days of trying to reach customers through ads on TV, in newspapers, or in magazines are over. Most television watchers skip over commercials (or avoid the ads by using TiVo), and few Starbucks's customers read newspapers or magazines, and even if they do, they don't focus on the ads. Social media marketing provides a number of advantages to companies, including enabling them to:
- create brand awareness;
- connect with customers and potential customers by engaging them in two-way communication;
- build brand loyalty by providing opportunities for a targeted audience to participate in company-sponsored activities, such as a contest;
- offer and publicize incentives, such as special discounts or coupons, which increase sales;
- gather feedback and ideas on how to improve products and marketing initiatives;
- allow customers to interact with each other and spread the word about a company's products or marketing initiatives; and
- take advantage of low-cost marketing opportunities by being active on free social sites, such as Facebook.
To get a flavor of the power of social media marketing, let's look at social media campaigns of two leaders in this field: PepsiCo (Mountain Dew) and Starbucks.