As the world of social media becomes increasingly crowded with brands and commercial messages, consumers aren’t going to listen to yet another pitch, regardless of how sophisticated or clever it is. They are growing weary of boastful brands that does absolutely nothing for them.
While media platforms have expanded from television, radio and print to online bits and bytes, the modus operandi for many brands hasn’t.
30 to 60 second TVCs are now migrating to YouTube. Audio ads are disguised as podcasts. Marketing spiels are concealed as educational slides on Slideshare.
Brands are also working with bloggers to help disseminate messages, often with strong promotional messages.
This does result in some backlash. In fact, according to this report by brand-e.biz citing TNS:
“….57% of people in developed markets do not want to engage with brands via social media, a figure which rises to 60% in the US and 61% in the UK.”
The sad truth is that marketers are still playing the game of we are the biggest, newest, cheapest, fastest, cutest, or most exclusive. They are still relying on hard-sell deals to clinch the sale.
How can brands be more helpful then? Well, here are some quick thoughts:
1) Be available to your customers and respond quickly to their cries for help via social platforms;
2) Look beyond your product or service to the context of its use. For example, sellers of diapers and baby products could provide educational tips on raising healthy kids;
3) Connect your customers via communities of interest. Serve those communities with useful tips and advice;
4) Be proactive in recommending a solution, even if it has absolutely no link to your product.
As social media becomes indistinguishable from mainstream media, the question is no longer about channels (or maybe even content) but customer-centricity. Shifting one’s focus towards customer’s broader needs and wants could help tilt the balance in a hypercompetitive consumer marketplace.