Social media marketing has been moving at an ever increasing pace, with new networks, platforms, business strategies and functionality being added every day. The pace of change can be daunting for New Zealand businesses that are either contemplating utilising social media marketing for their business or have just begun. The landscape for 2011 is again full of change; and these will have some impacts upon how New Zealand businesses utilise social media marketing for the purposes of promotion, interaction and engagement.

After reviewing some if the issues and challenges that were experienced in late 2010, as well as reviewing some identified trends in the marketplace, the following are important aspects that may have an impact on your business and its use of social media marketing in New Zealand:

Greater control by the audience: businesses and brands are going to be more visible on social media and network sites in 2011. The power of word of mouth both in the offline and online environments is well established in its ability to create demand or otherwise for a business. Whether businesses have a presence on social media sites or not, people will stall be talking about them. It is better to manage these conversations by actively engaging with them – this is where social media marketing services can assist greatly in the management of the brand in the online environment.

Social media monitoring will become even more important: related to the above, the power of the consumer voice in purchase decision making is firmly established. With the sharing capabilities that the internet and social media network bring, word of mouth communications can now reach millions. It is essential that business know of the conversations that are occurring about their brand, products and services; and where these conversations are taking place. Businesses need to identify the sentiment of conversations and the major influencers in the circle of conversation.

Attracting and engaging customers will become more difficult: as more businesses and brands have a presence on social media sites, there will be increasing competition for the consumers attention. Just having a presence will not be enough. Luckily, social media sites are simply platforms that can be customised for a range of marketing, resources, promotional and selling objectives. Being innovative and interactive will ensure your share of the crowd.

Management of the community and engagement: to keep the brand fresh in the minds of consumers, as well as creating positive word of mouth that creates intrinsic demand for products and services offered by the business, managing the communities of followers will be essential. If interaction and engagement with your communities is not completed, they will lose interest and go elsewhere.

Social media marketing and communications go mobile: consumers are connected everywhere. Mobile devices allow people to connect, comment, engage and find deals on the run, no matter where they are. Businesses must acknowledge the importance of interactive mobile marketing or risk the chance of being left behind.

Focussing on one social media network: the explosion and reapid expansion of social media networks has created an environment where a new site opens on a weekly basis. This is not only confusing for businesses who are attempting to use these tools, but consumers are getting tired of multiple sites. Time is of the essence and people will tend to flock towards social media sites where the most users are; and at this point in time, it is Facebook.

Locational marketing: tools like Foursquare and Facebook Places represent the merging of social media marketing and the need to drive customers to the bricks and mortar of the physical store. These tools will be used more by business in 2011.

The customer experience is the brand: realising that the experience is the brand, more effort will be placed on engaging with the audience. Additionally, this may affect the strategy towards content production, where more information and soft selling channels are implemented rather than repetitive marketing messages and hard sell.

ROI: more effective measures will emerge in 2011

Integrating social media sharing into websites will make them more attractive: the popularity of social media marketing sites, such as Facebook are going to be replicated on the business website; with more functionality that allows conversations and sharing.

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