Nowadays, social networking websites, has become the largest tool to interact with customers and build up healthy relationships with them. Historically, marketing and advertising approaches focus on the company pushing their brand and messaging out to the consumer communicating in a very generic way via public forms of media: radio, television, magazines, billboards, etc. but social media, however, combines those tried and true efforts with newer media to support communications at the more social level. Traditional media speaks to a target audience in a one-way fashion. This only allows the product to build awareness and convey its messaging to help shape and define its image. However, the advent of social media has provided products with the ability to massively interact with their target audience and create a fan base of customers willing to champion the product. The product moves beyond shouting at the audience to interacting with them in a more casual and trusted manner. Social media allows companies and their brands to reach both business and consumer targets not only on the external level but also on a lifestyle level, allowing the brand to become part of the social fabric of the customers' lives. This approach is not only stronger for consumer targeting but is also a valuable tool in developing and managing B2B relationships as well. Products can connect instantly with industry peers nationwide or even globally. The result is a powerful integrated method for managing the product across customer types.
There are various platforms which includes social networks, websites, instant messages, news feed etc. about a product, service, brand or company.Social networking sites act as word of mouth. Social networking sites allow followers to re-post comments made by others about a product being promoted. By re-posting the message, the users connections are able to see the message, therefore reaching more people. Because the information about the product is being put out there and is getting reposted, more customers gets connected to the product or company.Through social networking sites, companies can interact with individual followers. This personal interaction can instill a feeling of loyalty into followers and potential customers.
Another important platform is mobile phones. Today, most of the cell phones have social networking capabilities through which individuals are not aware of any events on social networking sites in real-time. This constant connection to social networking sites means products and companies can constantly remind and update followers about their capabilities, uses, importance, etc. Because cell phones are connected to social networking sites, advertisements are always in sight.
There are two approaches to use the social media:
The passive approach
Social media can be used as a source of market information and customer voice.With the help of blogs, content communities and forums individuals share their reviews and recommendations of brands, products and services. So, businesses are able to tap and analyze the customer voice generated in various websites for marketing purposes. Therefore, social media is an inexpensive source of market intelligence which can be used by marketers to track problems and market opportunities.
The active approach
Social media can be used as a public relations and direct marketing tools. It can also be used as communication channels (targeting specific audiences) and as customer engagement tools. There are many examples of firms initiating some form of online dialog with the public to foster relationships with customers. The largest example is Mr. Narendra Modi current prime minister of India who has employed social media platforms to circumvent traditional media channels to reach out to the young and urban population of India which is estimated to be 200 million.
In the conclusion, I would say Social-media marketing is an excellent way for businesses to broaden their exposure to the public at a much lower cost than traditional marketing. It establishes their presence on widely used platforms such as Facebook and Twitter which can help target new customers and make your brand more visible. The two-way communication facilitated by social media improves customer service and enables businesses to gain new information about their customers and make changes based on that knowledge.
As per the statistics, Social Networking is being used by 76% of businesses today. Business retailers have seen 133% increases in their revenues from social media marketing.