How Social Media Can Accelerate the Buying Cycle

  |  April 18, 2012   |  Comments

Social media may present challenges to your current model, but that may be just what you need to invigorate your media plan.

How often do you find yourself trying to force social media tactics into your broader marketing and communications roadmap, only to feel that they are being artificially inserted just to say that the program has a social element? What happens when the social tactics are performing worse than your traditional channels, or even worse, what happens when including a social element actually makes the program or campaign perform worse?

For many marketers, the problems stems from trying to force social media to fit within the construct of how they have traditionally viewed a customer lifecycle, rather than trying to update their customer interaction model. The other problem is that most organizations are only looking at social media as an outbound channel - not a two-way communications vehicle. Most businesses have a well-documented, refined customer acquisition and retention model that has been built based on years of data and market research. In fact, many marketers still use a variation of the AIDA principle when crafting their marketing message. The problem is that the AIDA model tends to be linear in fashion - and does not account for the disruptive nature of social media.

Breaking Down the AIDA Principle

  • Attention. How can I get a prospect's attention? How do I use media to introduce them to my brand or organization? How do I stand out in a saturated marketplace?
  • Interest. How can I cultivate interest in my products and services? What will make my products different than my competitors?
  • Desire. How do I drive demand and desire for my products? Is there a level of immediacy or time sensitivity that will increase desire?
  • Action. How do I trigger an action - buying, registering, calling, etc.? How can I be sure the action is qualified and comes with conviction and excitement?

Historically, this model provided an organized framework for aligning campaigns and strategies across tactics, audiences, and channels. However, social media is a disruptive channel, often occurring outside of paid media platforms, in ways that you cannot control. Unlike print, radio, TV, and more recent channels such as ad display and paid search, showing up in a Twitter post, as a Facebook comment, or featured in a blog is outside of your control.

The thing that most marketers don't embrace is that this change can be positive. Just because you cannot control the media doesn't mean that you cannot have strategies in place to get it to work in your favor. In many ways, social media can provide the external validation that paid media cannot.

So, stop thinking of how to apply social media to your current channels. Instead, take a step back and assess all they ways your audience may be impacted by social media - and develop new content, offers, and experiences that take advantage of the disruption. Use the two-way nature of social media to engage in conversations that accelerate the buying cycle. Create "social only" offers that take advantage of the immediacy of the Internet. Use sentiment and activity data to spot trends sooner - and apply that knowledge to your product pricing and promotional strategies. Social media may present challenges to your current model, but that may be just what you need to invigorate your media plan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Fishman

Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.

Andrea has been with BGT since 2003 and is credited with strengthening partnerships with such clients as ADT, Sony, ADP, and Avaya. Prior to joining BGT, she served as global vice president at divine, inc. She's also held strategic positions within marchFIRST, The Lewin Group, and the office of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman was awarded the Wasserman Scholarship for academic achievement and was named a 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business. She is a frequent judge for the eHealthcare Leadership Awards and is involved with the Special Olympics and Chicago Cares, a community service organization.

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