28 May 2024, 12:43
By Jacqueline Rose Mar 27, 2013

The impact of social media on marketing strategy

Considering today’s dominance of the social web in consumers’ lives, marketers have quickly understood how this new technology can be utilised as part of their marketing activity. In this article, Jacqueline Rose explains how social media influences the strategic marketing of a business, and how it can be used to a business’ advantage …

Social platforms are now widely used as another medium for brands to communicate with their prospective customers and begin to establish sustained dialogues. More recently, the value of social sharing for the organic ranking of websites has also become even more integral to SEO strategies, with Google’s new Penguin and Panda updates.

Philip Kotler, one of the most important originators of marketing theory, has developed a new integrated marketing concept which takes into consideration social media technology and the associated impact it has had on the marketing landscape – he calls this Marketing 3. In his theory, the latest thinking in Marketing 3 sees the change in Co-creation, Communitisation and Character-building which impacts on the current marketing disciplines ‘Product management, Customer management and Brand management‘.

Product management vs co-creation

Kotler’s new theory, co-creation, complements the former marketing concepts. In the Marketing 3 theory, online customer feedback and consumer insights which can be gained online are used to refine product offerings to better meet consumer needs. In short, furniture businesses may be able to spot trends, and to detect unsatisfied customer needs from virtual communities, and they could tap into any gaps in the market by changing their product portfolio. Above that, companies could profit from community members who share their knowledge, experience and insight with other members of the community. 

These peer-to-peer recommendations or user-generated content may appear more relevant and natural than traditional advertising, which in turn creates a trustworthy brand image. Therefore, co-creation comprises a company’s need to create a platform which allows the building of a consumer network. This network serves the aim of collecting feedback, which in turn is incorporated into the company’s efforts to satisfy diverse customer needs.

Customer management vs communitisation

Kotler sees a growing importance of online communities as places where brand images are built. He believes that the exchange of information between consumers in virtual communities can influence how brands are perceived and evaluated. For instance, if many customers share their positive experience with a furniture business online, this may raise attention for that business and could even generate positive feelings towards the brand from a wider community.

It’s also important to remember that social media has created a two-way dialogue, and a brand’s activity is now more visible and open to commentary from the online community – therefore it is essential that companies take heed of their corporate social responsibility and respond accordingly where necessary. 

“A furniture business’ main aim should be to support and help customers to build those online communities by providing the platform and motivating members to interact within the online community”

For example, in times of global warming furniture businesses are increasingly facing the questions surrounding the potential negative impact the manufacturing and transportation of their products has on the environment and society as whole.

The theory of Communitisation also recognises that consumers want to organise themselves in communities and connect to each other – not to companies. On the web, consumers are aiming mainly to connect to each other and interact on a one-to-one basis. Only loyal fans of a brand such as Ikea are connected to one leader and are interacting only with him or her. Therefore, it’s important to try to humanise your brand online to resonate with users as well as contributing to the community. Strong furniture brands such as Ikea are good at this.

As a result, a furniture business’ main aim should be to support and help customers to build those online communities by providing the platform and motivating members to interact within the online community. Community members can be easily motivated to interact by providing them a perceived benefit or incentive. Benefits and incentives can be intangible – such as prestige and a feeling of belonging – or tangible, which could be provided by a discount or voucher, etc.

Marketers can build virtual communities by using different kinds of social networks. The company JumpThru found that Facebook and Pinterest are prime examples of social networks, where people search for fun, entertainment, and a community. Blogs, which also can accommodate an online community, are primarily used to gain product information and advice, and to support a purchase decision, and thus are ideal for building hubs for loyal fans.

Brand management vs character building

In Kotler’s idea, the traditional brand building must be extended to actual character building, which enables brands to reflect an identity, and thus enables it to connect to humans on social networks. Here, marketing messages should be used to equip brands with human characteristics in terms of behaviour, gender, age, social economic class and emotional characteristics. Kotler suggests that character-building of brands leads to an authentic differentiation and credibility which helps to maintain a network of potential buyers.

Jacqueline Rose is the features writer for The Furniture Market, a furniture retail company located in Kelsall, just outside of Chester.

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