The era of Web 2.0 is an exciting time for marketing practitioners. Advancements in technology present opportunities for creative and highly interactive communication with increasingly engaged and sophisticated consumers.
This week I read Efthymios Constantinides’ journal article Foundations of Social Media Marketing. This article divides marketers’ use of Social Media into either a Passive Approach (‘listening in’ on consumer needs, experiences and trends) or an Active Approach (utilising Social Media as a communication or sales tool to attract, engage and retain customers).
Constantinides’ identifies four sub-categories of the Active Approach which illustrate some of the innovative ways that marketers are harnessing the power of Social Media to engage with consumers.
While researching these sub-categories I came across clever applications, such as Tourism Australia’s Virtual Reality 360-degree video which enables viewers click on a video and move it around to see it from all viewpoints. I uncovered case studies where promotions were used to encourage consumers to interact with a brand, uploading content and playing along with competitions such as Starbucks’ White Cup Contest.
I also found that inviting user generated content can go horribly wrong, as McDonald’s discovered via their Name A Burger promotion which invited New Zealanders to design a burger and upload it on Instagram. The promotion started out well with burgers called ‘Fryday’ or ‘Amburgular,’ but soon descended into a flurry of racist and offensively named burgers being uploaded on the site, which was promptly closed down.
Overall, I was astounded by shift in the power relationship that Social Media has brought about. No longer is communication a one-way street from the company via mass-media to the consumer, Web 2.0 has genuinely mobilised open two-way communication between the consumer and the company, and indeed between consumers themselves. Websites such as Tripadvisor.com (which enable guests to post or read reviews of accommodation, activities or restaurants) have even been extended to include the medical profession. While the rise of Social Media Influencers has empowered individuals to endorse or discredit a brand to millions of followers via a single blog, Instagram or YouTube post.
The greater transparency of the Social Media era has the potential to draw out some truly innovative marketing campaigns, however unless they are backed up by a strong product and excellent customer service consumers will soon see through the gloss.