SINGAPORE presents significant opportunities for organisations looking to reach out to a wider target audience on social media. According to a comScore March 2013 report, 85.4 per cent of Web users in Singapore visit a social networking site when they surf the Web, spending an average of 16.6 hours a month online.
Social media as a marketing tool
Executives keen to pursue careers in marketing are increasingly expected to have deeper knowledge of social media marketing to harness the power of social networks and increase word of mouth to expand customer reach.
This is not surprising given the global impact of social media. Social media presents boundless opportunities for businesses willing to communicate directly with customers, respond to feedback and share product updates in real time.
While not limited to only communication with consumers, social media can also be a powerful tool for B2B Marketing businesses. With social media platforms such as LinkedIn, B2B marketers can also engage with communities meaningfully and could, in turn, have a positive influence on their clients’ B2C market. These changes challenge the traditional role of marketers.
Although access to social media is widespread, using social media as a marketing tool is not an easy task. While it is perceived as an effective communication tool to engage communities at limited cost, the openness of social media channels underlines several risks for organisations.
For instance, many companies have had proprietary company information unintentionally leaked on social media by staff. In early 2011, then Hewlett-Packard vice-president Scott McClellan inadvertently tipped off competitors regarding previously undisclosed details of Hewlett-Packard’s cloud-computing services, revealing information about plans for cloud-computing services through an update in his LinkedIn profile.
The information had already spread online before action was taken to remove it from his profile. Competitors thus had access to Hewlett-Packard’s plans much earlier than intended.
Such crises could substantially damage a company’s reputation or cause companies to incur losses through information leaks if they are not handled appropriately once news goes viral.
Elaborating on this issue, Mr Ashwin Malshe, marketing professor and social media expert at ESSEC Business School, says: “Social media crises tend to be rooted in events that are memorable and contagious, making them very potent. Any company that is planning to be active on social media should put in place crisis monitoring, prevention, and reaction plans.”
The usage of these channels at a corporate level thus requires careful monitoring and supervision to prevent a social media crisis.
Content strategy needed
Although individuals may use social media on a daily basis, using social media at a corporate level requires a distinct set of skills. For instance, using corporate social media requires careful consideration of the content and a comprehensive alignment with corporate culture, marketing strategy and target audience.
Consider content strategy, one of the most crucial aspects of social media strategy. The quality of an organisation’s content strategy can make or break its social media initiatives.
When using social media, planning compelling content is key, and viral content could contribute tremendously to driving the sales momentum through word of mouth.
Developing content which appeals to followers’ emotions could make it memorable and increase its potential to go viral, while keeping it simple and unexpected. In this way, content becomes more relatable to customers.
It is thus crucial to understand your target audience to know what appeals to them and what does not. In addition, the ability to carry out meaningful analysis of data obtained from various social media channels is essential.
This data can give executives valuable insights into customer preferences and current trends, allowing them to appeal to target audiences more effectively.
Social media is not limited only to the marketing function, and can touch on different aspects of the business such as product development, human resources and operations.
Given the digital nature of social media, it has become essential for large organisations to have chief technology officers and chief marketing officers collaborate more closely to ensure an integrated and targeted approach that makes the most out of the technology.
Are you ready to discover the potential of social media?
Article by Denyse Lum, social media administrator, ESSEC Asia-Pacific (Singapore). She manages the digital content and social media platforms for ESSEC Asia-Pacific, ESSEC Business School. For more information, visit www.essec.edu/asia