For over a decade now, companies have increasingly recognized the importance of having a social media presence and many have sought to heavily integrate social media into their marketing and branding strategies. What has become clear throughout this course is that many companies still have not quite figured out how to effectively harness the potential of social media and there is no patented formula to utilizing social media to drive up revenues.
One of the first strategies that companies engaged in was boosting their presence on social through “likes” and “fans and followers.” There was a rush to have as many people connected to the company as possible. The problem is that these types of connections can often be quite arbitrary and don’t necessarily have any positive impact on bottom line numbers.
The WSJ article used the Ritz Carlton Hotels as an example of a company who is altering their social media strategy. They found that having too many followers and fans was diluting their brand and impeding their ability to truly connect with current clients or potential clients and respond adequately to their needs. Their strategy now is embedded in “quality over quantity.” Instead of focusing on trying to gain more customers just by bombarding them with the Ritz brand, they can focus on the smaller fan base and respond to their needs; answering questions about prices, addressing any issues that previous customers had and so on. This keeps their current customer base satisfied and loyal with a residual effect on potential customers whom they can communicate more effectively with.
Research is now showing that social media may not be the marketing jaggaurnaut that many believe it to be. A Gallup poll recently showed that a majority of Americans (62%) are not influenced by social media in purchasing decisions and only 30% admitted to being “somewhat” influenced. Consumers still trust the more traditional forms of advertising more than social and many have become adept at sidestepping the many forms of social advertising that can be seen as a nuisance.
So while the perfect utilization of social media in terms of growing the bottom line is still an imperfect science and indeed a work in progress, I believe companies may begin to shift gears to use social media in more dynamic ways. Truly engaging their customers with productive dialogue that benefits everybody instead of putting on advertising blitzkrieg’s through the social media platforms.
My question to the class is how much does social media truly influence your purchasing decisions and do you see social media’s future more as a tool of engagement or still as a tool of dire