The Internet has come a long way from being just a repository of information. Cyberspace has become a dynamic place where many types of interaction among its users not only exists but is flourishing. It is this dynamism among Internet users that has given rise to the success of social networking.
The power of social networking has significantly changed the way companies conduct their marketing strategies today. Traditional marketing – telling consumers what they should want – no longer works as efficiently today as it used to.
If there is a lesson that companies should learn from the social networking phenomenon, it is this: Consumers have gained more power to communicate what they want. And successful companies will not ignore what their customers have to say.
Why Traditional Marketing Is Not the Only Answer
In traditional marketing, companies get to dictate consumer trends based on the strategies they implement. Social networking is two-way communication. And traditional marketing actually can work more efficiently today with the addition of social networking. Advertisements shown on television, flashed on the radio and posted on billboards connect the product being advertised to a basic need in the consumer’s mind. Today, the consumer can now connect with many social networking web sites such as: Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and voice their opinion.
The social networking phenomenon has made it difficult for companies to dictate trends these days, unless they have become adept at utilizing the power of social networking themselves. The reason is that a consumer no longer has to accept what is given to him with nary a peep. Because of the depth and breadth of the information a consumer can glean from various social networks, he or she has learned to doubt what marketing strategists claim as true.
More importantly, the social networks that the consumer is a part of is more than capable of informing because some consumers now trust their networks more than they do marketing strategists. Nowadays, if a company wants to sell their products, they usually have to target specific social networks and earn the trust of these networks’ members.
Feedback Is Powerful
Earning the trust of the social networks to which their targeted consumers belong is a tricky deal and earning trust begins with coming up with a good product in the first place. This is another lesson from the social networking phenomenon that companies are beginning to learn.
Companies can no longer afford to hide a shady product behind a shiny marketing strategy. The social networks have become as sensitive as hound dogs, and they have become efficient in sniffing the bad products out. What is more is that consumers are no longer afraid to speak out.
It only takes a few disgruntled consumers with MySpace accounts and blogs for the word about a bad product to spread out. And bad news spreads quickly in cyberspace. Links to these blogs and MySpace accounts can be shared through blogs; other MySpace, Facebook or similar accounts; through websites like topix.com, YouTube or Digg; or through instant messenger relays. Negative feedback in forums like somethingawful.com and 4chan.org can also add to the damage.
The social networking phenomenon has given marketing strategists a new playing field, and in this playing field the consumers have more leverage. It is a leverage that companies cannot afford to ignore if they want to continue improving consumer confidence and sales.