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Depending upon how creatively you use it, the buzz that you can create through social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — can be huge and humongous. For the first them, there is a medium that’s puts “public” into Public Relations and the “market” into marketing. The news, an idea or the buzz that you create through social media can go viral in minutes, nay seconds — only because there are so many anonymous brand ambassadors out there on the World Wide Web waiting to do the job for you — if only you’d trust them!
The nature of this medium is such that it eliminates all the middlemen — your marketing and sales team — providing you with the unique handle for building a direct relationship with your customers and, if you wish, seek honest feedback on your later product offering or service. This last feature may make small businesses wary of using it, but you have to make this leap of faith, if you want to harness its full power. Even though it can end up a bit like the Frankenstein’s monster — dangerous, mad and a little out of control. But that’s precisely the beauty of the medium. Once created, you have to let the monster loose on the street, you cannot tame it; you cannot chain it. You have to just hope that it will pick its way through the meandering, mean streets and work to your bidding. Ultimately, you will have to let it work on the principles of crowd psychology.
When the tide is high, you can expect to sail high; when the tide is low, you duck in and sink with it, hopping that in the next cycle it will rise again. It will definitely be a bumpy, roller coaster ride. Some brands try to work with a mixed model — set up both free and closely monitored communities; use all kind of social media monitoring tools to keep a tight vigil on what’s happening and watch with a hawk’s eye this whole business of blogging, posting and twittering.
These days, it can be fully outsourced to a paid, partisan third party — but, to be honest, that limits the medium from displaying its full vigor and power. It’s wiser to let it be. That way, you can rest assured of several interesting brand insights. The new word for this trend is “crowd sourcing.” Put an idea out to seed in the social space and watch it grow overnight into a fruit-laden tree. Brands such as Doritos, Pringles, Walkers crisps, Heinz, Tide 2 Go and Nissan Cube have begun seeking out creative directors among their Facebook fans and Twitter followers — inviting them to suggest ideas for their next advertising campaigns for a handsome prize, of course!
As a form of disruptive marketing, social media is a powerful medium. Turn your brand over to your customer – to toy with and do as they please and be prepared to be surprised. It’s risky but it’s also fun and there is a lot of learning in it. Are you ready for those surprises? Do you have enough faith in your product? Is your service top-notch? If the answer to those questions is yes, you have nothing to fear. As a form of below-the-line, non-traditional marketing, a clever use of social media will stop consumers in their track and make them take notice of what you are trying to do. And there are plenty of metrics available to measure the impact of the medium. So just set forth and try….