People use social media. Companies as well. Increasingly. Those are facts. Despite discussions concerning the ROI of social media marketing and many questions regarding the how, what and when, it remains a fact that social media marketing exists and works, whether we debate it or not. However, social media marketing is an extremely broad concept.
Social media marketing is an umbrella concept, something that entails many forms of interaction, entertainment, media and marketing. However it is not an isolated island in itself. If people today combine various channels to inform themselves and interact, it is logical that we as companies and marketers should also do this.
Cross-channel marketing is a matter of customer-centricity and requires a very fundamental knowledge of customers, prospects, fans, etc. which is amongst other reasons what we strive for with social media monitoring.
There is no such thing as "THE conversation"
If our clients use social media so should we. But what's next? "Join the conversation" as everyone shouts? In reality there is no such thing like "the big conversation". Every day millions of micro conversations take place between people all over the world. On the social Web we apparently like to call them "the conversation".
Conversations are in the end communication. As such, conversations are "useless" from a business perspective, other of course than for the emotional satisfaction of the participants, the fun of it and so on.
In business, conversations are only useful if they are about our company's ecosystem but most of all if they are relevant and lead to value for both discussion partners.
Then conversations can become customer interactions, word-of-mouth, feedback and even transactions.
Cross-channel marketing for a multichannel customer
This can only be done if social media marketing, just as more conventional forms of interactive marketing, is triggered and steered by people, fans, prospects, communities and every interaction among and with them, in an integrated way and irrespective of the channels.
Integration of channels and a multi-channel approach is what the cross-channel customer needs. Even if the triggers are "invisible" at first sight: they still come from people.
It requires data, CRM and much more to achieve this and we have to stop putting the media themselves in the centre of the social media universe but the life cycle and value chain of the client, the prospect, the fan, etc..
This way we can look at people and doing this, you will quickly discover that the social consumer is really a cross-channel consumer.
Just this is what makes social media marketing so fascinating. The fact that we can combine all existing communication channels people use in function of what they want. In the end it's about interacting with the multichannel customer with the customer and CRM in the middle of social and personal ecosystems.
Efficiently using social media to improve the relevance of marketing and communication programs
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Summary : The hottest topic in marketing and communication is without any doubt social media marketing. Although many businesses are still testing the waters, many others have successfully integrated social media in their marketing mix.