It’s one of the biggest internet sensations of the 21st century so far social media. But is it an effective business marketing tool and is it here to stay?
Marketing commentary: Will Social Media "Like" Your Business? Impact PR’s Mark Devlin gives his take on the mix between social media and business. It’s one of the biggest internet phenomena of the 21st century so far social media. But is it an effective marketing tool and is it here to stay? According to Impact PR Director and experienced marketing man Mark Devlin, there’s no question that people are using social media websites like Facebook and Twitter with gusto, particularly the younger generation.
But with social media still in its infancy and it being a platform that marketers still don’t fully understand, a cautious approach needs to be taken as to whether such platforms are the best place to sell products and services.
Devlin says that, for example, some companies have spent tens of thousands of dollars on social media campaigns through advertising agencies with poor results, sometimes with less than 1000 followers or people who "like" the company’s page.
"I think social media works best for businesses when there is an incentive for people to visit or to pass the page onto a friend," he says.
"A recent example I saw on Facebook was where people who liked a particular page received 10% off products instore. Not only does that give people an incentive to like you, but it brings customers through your doors too."
Other incentive-led examples include prizes to the person who becomes the 1000th person to like a page or users going into a draw for a prize if they recommend a friend.
Devlin says businesses should keep in mind that traditional media offers a credibility factor.
"Anyone can set up a page on a social media website, but traditional media offers more credibility because of the controls it has over it by experienced editors and journalists," he says.
Traditional media also has the benefit of longevity. Devlin also says the internet can be fickle and what’s in one year can easily be out the next.
"Remember MySpace and Bebo? Both of those websites were hugely popular five years ago, but now they’ve been overtaken with Facebook and Twitter.
"And then there’s the question of what happens if today’s most popular social networking sites introduces a controversial policy that turns people away in their droves and your audience with it?"
Devlin says, however, that social media does have its advantages, like being able to be used to point people directly to businesses own websites, as well as the fact that it’s free to set up a page.
"Like a lot of things, you need to experiment to see what works for your brand and what doesn’t and it’s something that can be developed over time depending on user feedback," he says.