Is Social Media an Effective Marketing Strategy or Noise?

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

Purpose

The purpose of this report is to determine if the use of social media is an effective marketing strategy for Worklink Employment Services Society (WESS). Social media is quickly becoming an essential part of marketing, allowing businesses to build stronger relationships among customers and the industry. This report will go into further detail of the advantages and disadvantages of social media for WESS.

As communications coordinators, we researched the effectiveness of social media as a marketing strategy, and its potential to be noise. This report allows WESS to decide accurately on whether to use social media without affecting the organization’s budget.

WESS’s Current Challenges

Is it possible that social media could broaden networking capacities, and increase the number of volunteers and donations? If we knew how we could reach professional clients and keep them interested in upcoming events, will we be more successful? Social media is changing the way we communicate. With the growth of Internet use, social networks are now connecting and expanding exponentially.  As a non-profit organization, it may prove advantageous to integrate social media into communication tactics, informing a larger audience on employment and career-related programs.

A challenge non-profit organizations face when using social media is incorporating it into existing communication strategies. If potential clients, volunteers, and donors are using other forms of social media, WESS risks missing important engagement opportunities. Knowing what the tools are and how to use them can draw attention and grow support for the company. WESS’s goal is to expand the company’s reach in B.C. by raising awareness of its services and programs offered.

Background of Social Media

Social media can be traced back to the beginnings of the Internet with the start of Usernets and Bulletin Board Systems. These sites were primarily used to spread information to businesses. Advancements in technology have increased the presence of social media since the early 2000s. Sites such as Friendster, Hi5 and MySpace paved the way for niche sites that allow users to create personal profiles that include pictures, interests, videos, games, and groups. Social media also allows families, friends, businesses, and communities to stay connected.

As social media gains popularity (485 million daily Facebook users as of December 2011), sites have evolved into marketing tools used by small and corporate businesses alike. Social media gives businesses the ability to reach millions of people in hundreds of countries instantaneously and with the opportunity of receiving immediate feedback. No other form of media can do this.

There are different types of social media sites, each one targeting a different market. The three most popular sites for business use are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Face book uses “pages” to display information, pictures, advertising, and feedback. Twitter uses “status tweets” to create a following of consumers for a business using linking, hashtags, and image posting. LinkedIn uses resume-like profiles to link businesses, colleagues, and industry professionals. Members are notified of others that they would benefit from connecting with as well as industry-related updates and job postings. With social media site membership growing daily, staying relevant and involved in the business community is easier and more advantageous than ever.

Advantages of Social Media

Social media can be used as a tool for WESS by connecting with a larger target audience to promote greater public awareness, immediate consumer feedback, and increased company branding in the marketplace. Social media allows the message to be more effective and timely than traditional marketing campaigns.

By using sites such as Facebook and Twitter, WESS would be able to create a following of clients and be able to update them regularly on opportunities within the community, workshops and courses available to them and be able to connect with them in a positive manner. One monetary benefit of using social media is the ability to increase traffic to WESS’s website and access to the organizations information while reducing the need and cost of print media.

Social Media as Noise

While social media is able to efficiently create public knowledge of a company or product, it is difficult to measure how online interaction translates into consumer action. Many communication and marketing researchers question if social media is really creating change to everyday patterns or if it is simply creating “noise”. It is also a matter of how WESS will make their message stand out in a crowd and be reliable and factual. Often, organizations believe that constantly messaging their customers will keep their business top of mind, but this sometimes creates a sour taste in their followers’ mouth, who receives too much information and not enough relevant content.

Consequently, social media campaigns also tend to have higher start-up costs and maintenance fees than the average newspaper advertising campaign. Creating and maintaining websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts can be time consuming and expensive; this can become full-time employment in itself.

If social media is decided to be “noise” in marketing, don’t participate in social media at all.
By not participating in social media, one can avoid creating inappropriate content that could go viral, representing the organization in a negative light. Also, resources and employee hours could be used in other proven marketing strategies.

Recommendations for Implementing Social Media

The following steps are given as recommendations for WESS to maintain the goal of increasing its presence in the market place to raise brand recognition and loyalty.

1. Ask an organization executive to manage the social media account. WESS can save money with an executive in charge of social media, as nobody knows an organization better than the individual who is most passionate about it. Supporters would also feel a special connection with WESS by having access to an executive’s thoughts. However, executives may not have time to project the right online personality as social media requires a more relaxed, consistent, and timely communication.

2. Hire a contractor to manage WESS’s social media.
Employees tend to cost more than contractors because of employee benefits, office space, and equipment. Contractors are social media specialists, therefore would be able to dedicate more time to research trends and expand their knowledge on the topic. On the other hand, contractors don’t have the everyday experience as a WESS employee would, thus missing the chance of extra connection.

3. Delegate roles to different departments (HR, Marketing, Business Development, etc.)
Having different voices will expand the organization’s visibility and reach. Having the roles delegated amongst the team will help the team share the load as well as encourage collaboration. With this option, it is important to consider that there is a potential for having an inconsistent voice, conflicting, and repetitive messages because of the different authors.

4. Update the WESS website and make sure the content is current and direct traffic to and from the social media sites. Updating the content consistently allows WESS to stay current and to maintain customer loyalty

5. Conduct a survey and offer a participation prize for those who complete the survey to see the effectiveness of social media for WESS. A survey is a great way for the marketing team to provide feedback to the VP and CEO on the effectiveness of social media. Offering a prize to followers is another incentive to retain and gain new supporters.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s