I can remember planning out product marketing campaigns in the past. They played out like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. First, we determined the audience, crafted a message, and developed content for various media outlets-—in my case, print and websites. Then we would place the content, both advertising and articles, in the outlets and wait. Finally, we would see how well we did usually by looking (hopefully) at an increase of leads tied to the sources—the various outlets—we had placed content in. This was an expensive and laborious process but followed a fairly simple blueprint of plan, message, create, place, and evaluate. The same process could be applied to trade shows as well, where the costs were higher but the feedback more immediate.
The downside to this process was twofold. First, if something was wrong in our message or content, we didn’t find out about it until too late. We could change our web ads, keywords, and the like but that assumed that we could even tell that something wasn’t working in time for meaningful change. Waiting for leads to come in (or not) and doing surveys was too slow a process. The second challenge was that there was no way to leverage influencers and most methods of amplification were fairly costly. In other words, we couldn’t pivot quickly enough and didn’t have the information to even know we needed to.
Modern social media marketing platforms and analytics has changed this process dramatically. It has created a continuous marketing cycle that allows marketing professionals to pivot more quickly to take advantage of opportunities and fix problems as they happen. We can now quickly understand customers on a deep level, craft messages and content that appeals to them, place that content in ways to take advantage of network effects and influencers, and immediately evaluate the efficacy of the marketing effort. This enables marketing professionals to alter the message and content and push them out to social media once again. Social analytics provides the knowledge of customers and how they are responding to a product, brand, or message while social media marketing platforms allow for quick response to changes in the environment. Together, they create a virtuous cycle of understanding customers and the market, messaging, content creation, placement, amplification, and evaluation that leads back to trying once more to better understand customers.
With social media, this cyclical approach can happen quickly and at low incremental cost. The automation and control of social media marketing platforms helps to reduce marketing risk while further reducing the cost. Social media with its direct customer engagement model is changing many aspects of marketing. The change in the very process of marketing is one of the more profound effects.
You can read more about how social media is changing marketing in my new ESG Market Landscape Report "Social Media Marketing and Analytics".