Leaping to a new level of Marketing with Tech

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Social media gives new meaning to competition, as product information is shared, analyzed and recommended online                          

Public perception of consumer brands has drastically changed over just a few generations, and nowhere is that change more profound than with social media marketing. As American business magnate, Scott Cook, said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is. It is what customers tell each other it is.”

Millennials, unlike earlier generations, do not trust the honesty of traditional advertising. As millennial Matthew Tyson says, “Traditional advertising literally has no effect on me. It doesn’t influence my buying habits whatsoever. In fact, I feel comfortable saying that I’m completely immune to it.” Traditional advertising is used to pushing biased attributes of products at people. Millennials, on the other hand, are able to access all kinds of information instantly, and on multiple platforms. And they check and confirm the information they find, with their network of friends and like-minded individuals on social media platforms. Having grown up in this culture of shared information, about 84% of Millennials refuse to be compelled by traditional advertising the way earlier generations got hooked. They resent “the talking down to” attitude that advertisers assumed with earlier generations. Being digitally savvy, Millennials see traditional marketing techniques as intrusive and they are irritated by the one-way communication of irrelevant content and messages. According to the market research company eMarketer, over 25% of all smartphone users have installed ad blockers, and more people are following suit. American best-selling author, Seth Godin says, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

As Oxford University Research observes, “People don’t share facts, they share emotions.” Integrated marketing communications experts, Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett, said, “Word-of-mouth marketing has always been important. Today, it is more important than ever because of the power of the Internet.”

Focused on shared experiences and honest discussions about the pros and cons of products and services, Millennials contemplate and voice their contemplation and their reasoning on social media. As startup entrepreneur David Alston, said, “Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”  And relationships are built on trust because they are all looking for the best deals. They are all interested in interacting with other consumers to discuss the qualities of the product before making a purchasing decision. Lindsay Drucker Mann at Goldman Sachs Research says that Millennials are willing to wait for the right deal to appear.

Smart, forward-thinking brands are indeed using social media and technology to get through to millennial consumers, as they are not getting their money’s worth through conventional advertising. And such advertisements cost a lot of money. According to Nielsen’s recent Millennials on Millennials Report, less than 2% of millennials watching TV, changed channels during commercial breaks, not because they are giving any attention to the ads, but because they are connected to other mobile devices simultaneously, and shift their attention during commercials. As a result, their ability to remember the ads is low.

Even as Millennials scour social media platforms for information, they also focus attention on influencers. Thus, social media influencers are adding another dimension to the conversation. For instance, 40% of customers who buy a product online have done so because it was used by an influencer on social media and, 72% of customers trusted a business more after an influencer recommended it.

According to McKinsey, most referrals for products advertised online are given by a small number of social media influencers, who have earned the trust of followers as having expertise or other influence in specific market niches. For example, for products like shoes and clothing, 5% of influencers offering product recommendations, was driving 45% of social influence.

According to entrepreneur Andrew Molz, brands should focus on earning referrals and recommendations to convince Millennials of the authenticity of their products. Molz built a Shopify-based website and generated $2.2 million in sales purely through social media-generated traffic. Moltz also says that displaying satisfied-customer testimonials on social media and landing pages, and hiring influential brand ambassadors and sponsoring influencers, also help toward driving up the number of new customers.

It ultimately boils down to a whole new way of looking at the same thing.  As digital expert Jay Baer says, “We often lull ourselves into believing that our competition is our competition. But in social and content marketing, that’s not true. Your competition is the whole world.”

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