It is a very important demarcation that i came across during the social media marketing course between social networking and social media. while the two may be very loosely used in our general conversation, there is a stark difference between the two. Most of us who feel that having an FB page or a twitter account makes us active social media users, it is required to know the difference in the two.
Social Networking is when we or for that matter a company use social networking sites to share views, gather information or give information but the communication is strictly one way. There is no close loop and so it can be simply a mass communication form where the information is shared with all and nearly nothing is received back. Interestingly, I might be participating in someone’s social media campaign by giving reviews, posting comments and sharing it but in my individual sphere it is just social networking.
Social Media is when one tries to close the loop by having an information flow to and fro. This is where today companies bet their money…they use social networking sites to engage the customer and to involve them in the flow of communication. at some level it may become a one to one communication when consumers express their concern, requirement or feedback and the organization can respond to it almost real time. This when used to promote or sell products/services is known as social media marketing.
Hope it helps in knowing where you are!
A market place is a fine example of potential transactions but with asymmetric information. It simply means that the information available to buyers is different or mostly insufficient than the information available to the sellers. The general perception about this gap would be that it’ll insinuate purchase reluctance in buyers if the sellers don’t bridge this information gap. But for this to happen, the customer needs to be aware of the information deficiency which more than often never happens! However, it is interesting to see how this “unexploited value” gives buyers and sellers an incentive to capture that value. And this my friends is the genesis of Marketing Signaling and Screening…a power foreplay of buyers and sellers that had influenced product sales ones but now has changed gears.
Sellers with high quality products need ways to signal the quality of their products so that buyers can distinguish between high-quality and low-quality products. Before we consider this ideal situation, it’s important to realize that there are no fair rules in marketing. A seller would very much want to signal the high product/service qualities but what if it has none? well…the seller can still promise all the big stuff quality and features which for the time being only he knows isn’t true. Buyers must find ways to screen out erroneous information but allow in truthful information. This may not seem very relevant for products which can be easily evaluated or are low involvement like vegetables, soaps but think about the time when you bought a new refrigerator or an air conditioner.
Traditional form of marketing is highly Signaling driven. Remember the print Ads and television commercials which bragged about their product features and how they are the best in the market. They had everything in it for you to believe them and we did!
It was partly because the product value proposition mirrored consumer needs but for most of the time it was because just a one way communication. There was no way the company would answer an individual’s concern before buying that product and so we felt…may be they are right. The scope of screening was very less unless the company salesmen were at your door step to demonstrate or give eye popping warranty for it.
In today’s marketing scenario, with the advent of social media marketing the play field has been leveled for both the players. Social media marketing has helped in completing the communication cycle by including the buyers in every step of the transaction (information and goods). Today the companies on social media platforms cannot just get away with false claims and product featuring. In no time the customer can track them down and inquire about what ever is in their mind out in the open. The ball now is in the seller’s court and they are bound to respond to the query or comment. If they don’t…customer has successfully screened them out and if they can survive the screening the customer gets the best bet. All in all customer has emerged as the powerful end of this marketing evolution and it is expected out of the customer to make the most out of it.
MBA in marketing inundates you with the facts and figures of how the whole world (in some way or the other) is on a marketing spree! And one such floodgates that opened for us a whole new “virtual” dimension of marketing, but only to make it ever so real, is Social Media Marketing. I was so intrigued by the sheer essence of this subject that I had to put to word my perspective about social marketing (it just so happened that it somehow measured my participation in the course :P). As we try to fathom in each session how the dot com has webbed us in literal sense, it also helped me connect some dots that otherwise would have never come to me.
A month ago, I did a marketing stint of selling farm produce in the city. It was, in galactic terms, making two parallel universe meet! The rural producers who had no clue what marketing is…let alone social media marketing and there was the urban consumer who would care to know only if you are on a flat screen. One of these days when I was desperately trying to find a market linkage for this product, I almost wowed a store manager. It’s simple I thought, 4P check…7M check…squeeze in AIDA for special effects and job well done. But then he asked, ” Whats the website again?? I have to search this stuff”. As you might have guessed the deal was off the table and what followed was pretty dramatic but there’s his one statement that made me revisit this whole incident…”No website, how do I know you guys even exist for real”
At that point of time I wanted to pinch him so he would know I am for real…but thankfully we are also taught people management in MBA. But today when I think…this statement holds a lot of gravity. Social Media in present day is a feeble force that keeps your marketing plan intact. Be it the voluminous participation, the expansive reach or its contagious effect, social media has gone miles ahead from merely facilitating interconnection to being a mass establishment that validates your existence in many curious ways. It also justifies itself in doing so! while you may take your time to get on board…its unimaginable how fast a quarter of the world has moved on. So if you don’t want to be known or heard here…seriously nobody cares. The question that lingers is what about the extreme end of the spectrum who are lapse away from catching up with this sonic revolution? Is it just about surfing the wave and not waiting for the high tide?