HOW SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTS THE INTERACTION OF COMPANIES AND THEIR CUSTOMERS IN THE GLOBAL BUSINESS
Social media is an effective tool matching corporate offers with consumer values, demands and individual preferences. Popular social media channels have become the innovative source to seduce target markets, build up audiences, and promote a brand. Competitive companies widely apply influential marketing and advertising strategies to become recognizable and generate public awareness.
This report consists of the discussion of social media effects on corporate promotions and branding and real-to-life case studies of the companies that successfully apply social media as a strategic means of their competitive advantage.
As an integral component of marketing mix, promotion assumes the application of the entire scope of communications on the competitive marketplace. Companies achieve socialization and publicity mainly through social media advertising and networking. Social media enables the companies to promote their image and brand by raising customer awareness and conveying core messages through popular media channels and networks to reach target markets.
The strategic purpose of corporate PR function consists in combining corporate goals the public concerns and expectations. Social media therefore helps a company win strategic advantages and competitive positions on domestic and international markets. While managing the external communications with the general public, corporate leaders become the face of a company and therefore bear sole responsibility for introducing its policies and activities in the best light before the general public. By effectively operating corporate PR campaigns corporate leaders create unique atmosphere among the communities served by a company and win customers’ preferences over their competitors.
PR strategy development is a robust process approached with much care and attention. Depending on the set priorities, it is important to determine whether a company wants to share its expertise and experience with potential customers. At that, a company should create a sense of goodwill among its target markets and communities. Through social media channels, companies arrange effective PR campaigns to reinforce corporate brand image and create positive perceptions of its products and/or services. Companies often apply PR tactics through social media channels to facilitate the promotion of new products/services on the market. Through various social media channels, companies raise customer awareness by conveying their core messages. This enables them to explicitly cover their target markets and win more consumers from the rivals. Effective promotional strategy through the Internet enable the companies to make their brands recognizable and highly demanded among their target markets.
In order to develop effective social media communication, it is necessary to: (1) identify the target audience, which designates the right choice of the intended strategy; (2) define the communication goals; and (3) design the message. At that, three types of appeals are used:
- Rational - showing that the product will satisfy customer’s individual interest and provide expected benefit;
- Emotional – inspiring negative or positive emotions; and
- Moral – considering the customer’s sensing of positive and negative feelings.
Further on, it is worth to choose the right message format as well as the source of the message. Experts recommend applying eye-catching as well as innovative images and tools that produce considerable effect while conveying the message. Thus, the key idea is to get responses from the consumers; the latter will provide them once they are motivated enough and are able to see the benefit.
Case study-1: H&M applies social media to get closer to the consumer
H&M promotes its direct advertising approach to establish a better position on the local and international markets. At that, the main goal is to establish sound and trustworthy relationship with the customers. This concerns the whole process starting from product development and ending with bottom-line performance. Social media presense enables the company to see business interactions through the consumers eyes, better comprehend consumer values and demands, and find new ways to maintain the competitive balance. Smart advertising strategies assumes the efective combination of such media sources as print, television, radio and the Internet. Furthermore, the company integrates direct mail pieces and catalogs with new offers. The desired outcome is to make everyone feel comfortable about the purchased products and received services . In due case, Internet serves as the most preferred medium for advertising and promotion purposes.
In addition to the Internet, the H&M applies direct marketing as a powerful tool to establish closer personal contact with featured target groups. Informing community about H&M plans and indicating its present problems promotes general belief in better future. Such integration of media approaches ensures initial outcomes which, in turn, indicates readiness of people to perceive the ideas (products, services and discounts) promoted by H&M. Furthermore, in terms of cost-saving, these approaches enable to achieve sound results in non-expensive manner compared to radio or TV promotions. Finally, both approaches encourage target groups, make them think of improvements, and contribute themselves to the shared projects.
H&M intensively applies the approaches to e-advertising and clicks strategies through the corporate website. It offers such convenient customer-oriented option as ordering online.
As well as online media, H&M uses traditional television advertising to shape public mind. At that, it is rather important to cherish target customers and do everything possible to win their trust, rather than merely purchase products. Direct marketing and overall support makes the service reliable and the customers are ensured that the products are of proper quality standard.
In addition to these approaches, H&M encourages own membership by developing lively interaction with the customers that are sharing the same values and concerns. New customers should be encouraged by the well-functioning discount system, H&M programs and incentives, advertising banners, conducting polls and marketing research on particular issues and consumer items. Overall, H&M sustains its competitive advantage on domestic and international markets by applying the abovementioned marketing approaches. At that, the company’s management should decide on the best combination of the all available marketing and promotion strategies.
The concept of societal marketing designates the immediate needs of the target markets, and intends to deliver consumer satisfaction in a competitive way by improving both consumer and social well-being. Such approach actually calls on H&M to balance consumer wants, firm profits, and social welfare. At that, H&M applies ethical and environmental policies, and back them up with action. Sometimes, this may involve a call for ethical auditing exercises, significant counterarguments in the media sources, as well as the need for legal regulation.