In these modern times, companies have many options for reaching out to the public to inform them about a particular product or service offered by their respective organization. This is a continuous subject of study for marketing students. With the advancement of technology, a company can now get information out to the public instantaneously. This sample essay dissects how contemporary businesses market their goods and services, and how many have begun using email and social media campaigns to improve their bottom lines.
Marketing in the 21st century
Modern corporations face a challenging question as to what form of communication a company should use when reaching out to its potential clients. Two key ways for a company to do just that are in the use of email or social media publicity campaigns. These two forms of communication both allow for the instantaneous transmission of information, however, each one is more suitable for certain scenarios. The use of an email campaign is effective when reaching out to an already established client base with the means of making them feel they are receiving special insider treatment whereas a social media publicity campaign helps to reach out to new, untapped clients and spread the information faster.
First and foremost, it is important to realize which form of media is more widely used. By knowing this, a company can make an appropriate decision on which form of media they want to use for their publicity campaign. If the company is attempting to reach the maximum number of individuals, then the use of social media makes the most sense. As Figure 1 shows, since 2009, the global users for social media have exceeded the number of users of pure email. This would suggest that by taking a social media publicity campaign, a company would be able to get its message out for more people to see. However, the use of an email publicity campaign still holds several distinct advantages.
Is Email a marketing strategy?
Email offers a much more personal means of correspondence. When a user receives an email, it is directly sent to them. This sometimes can create a feeling that the receiver of a message is somehow more important or special than someone who does not receive a message. Further, those that receive emails will spend more time reading them than something that appears on a social networking site that the individual does not know or care about. On the Internet, time is everything. Additionally, those that receive emails from the same people over and over can develop a sense of trust from the sender. According to research,
“most people open email from a maximum of 16 ‘trusted advisers’- and they almost always open these emails,” (Bnonn, 2012).
A private research firm found in 2012 that some 19,000 adults from 24 different countries tend to use the Internet for email usage more than social networking. According to the study, those surveyed used 85% of their time for email usage, whereas only 62% used that time for social networking. Given that the number of users for social media is higher than that of email, it is important to note that many users appear to be more interested in checking their emails on a daily basis then going to social network sites and keeping up with their posts, followers, etc. (Wasserman, 2012).
Additionally, the use of email is much more popular with older users on the Internet. As reported by the Pew Research Center,
“on a typical day, while a majority of online adults ages 50-64 (60%) and ages 65 and older (55%) send and receive email, relative few check in with their friends and family via social networking sites (20% and 13%),” (PewResearch, 2010).
With this in mind, a company needs to ask itself several important questions about whom it is marketing to. If the company is marketing towards an older audience, then the obvious choice is to go with email. Additionally, by marketing towards an older clientele base, a company will be targeting towards a group of people that already possesses a larger amount of income and financial stability. Older individuals tend not to be in a state of financial change that the younger demographic tends to be in. They have usually been in their careers for multiple years and have built up some amount of savings.
Adversity to social media marketing
For many individuals, the use of email also feels less intrusive than social media. Most people do not go onto social media websites to hear sales pitches or learn about a product’s newest features. Being contacted by a PR representative of a social media website can turn some people off the idea of using that product or service. Andreas Kluth, West Coast Correspondent from the Economist, best summarizes this idea;
“I don’t like being contacted by PR people on Facebook…If they seem me picnicking on a Sunday in the park with my family, would they come over, sit down on our blanket and pitch me a press release?” (Wynne, 2012).
This goes to the fundamental idea of manners of advertisers. They want to push their product but they do not want to overly force themselves upon potential clients, or clients can form opinions similar to what Kluth mentions.
For all the advantages that the use of an email campaign has to gain publicity for a potential product or service, the use of social media as a means of a publicity campaign has its place. Social media sites are extremely popular among the younger demographic. According to the data from Pew Research, 60% of adults’ aged 18-29 will visit and utilize social networking sites (PewResearch, 2010). This is a crucial piece of information for a company that is marketing towards a specific age group. Knowing that over half of the people aged in this category will most likely be on a social media webpage, gives the idea that marketing to one of these sites is a good idea.
There is also something to be said about the spread of information from a social media point of view. Though emails can be sent to many different users, if they are not from a sender that the individual knows there is a good possibility that the email will never be opened. Because of viruses and Trojans, users are very careful to not always open up unknown emails. Spam catchers also will filter lots of emails for advertisement into a folder that a user will empty without ever reading the majority of messages within. This is not a problem with social media.
Social media marketing can’t be ignored
The websites will track what sort of products and services a user may want to be informed about based on what he or she says that he or she is interested in. This will allow for the user to see publicity for products and/or services that they may already have some vested interest in. Additionally, users can see what sort of products and services that their friends enjoy on many social networking websites. If someone sees a close friend likes a particular company, product, service, etc., then that user may be more inclined to also look at and like that same product. The basic idea is that people can receive information about a company (or its products and services) not only directly from that company, but they also can receive advertising from their friends and almost feel a sense of peer pressure to enjoy those same products or services. Social media also allows advertisers to reach certain demographics, even a particular gender.
The idea of spreading information on social networking sites has been seen and tested on multiple occasions. One such example of this phenomenon in action comes from a study that looked at college students’ use of the social networking site Twitter to gain and spread information during a campus emergency. Though this is not a study that looks at the response to publicity campaigns, there generalized discussion is applicable because it looks broadly at the way that the students were sending and receiving information over a form of social networking.
What the researchers found suggested that the students respond to information coming from official sources compared to personal sources to be different. The students tend to feel more trusting from the information that comes from their trusted individuals; however, the messages sent from the official source were critical in providing the original details and important information that the students needed to know immediately. These findings back the idea that consumers can be beneficial to the spread of data on a social media publicity campaign (Hui et al., 2012).
The use of social media for publicity campaigns also helps to get instantaneous feedback from a consumer base. An article posted by NY1 showcases just this notion. Restaurant co-founder and operator Michael Berl uses Facebook and Twitter to get direct feedback from their clients. He states,
“We get feedback from our customers, you know, things that they like, hopefully not too often things they don’t like and slow what they are looking for,” (Wagner, 2012).
This is one of the most important advantages of using social media. It allows for companies to reach out to its clients. If a company is advertising a product or service and then receives feedback that customers like a particular feature about that product or service, a company can quickly revamp their advertisement scheme to sell that particular feature. This will allow the company to showcase what appeals to the clients the most and cut out what is least desirable about a product or service to their clients.
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Communication is key
Social media can be a powerful tool for companies that are advertising to a younger demographic. The spread of information through social media does not have to be limited directly from company to consumer; many individuals will post and do some of the advertising for the company. This allows a company to reach new clients that they may not have been able to get their information out to otherwise. Users on social media websites are much more likely to forward something to their friends about a product or service over a social media webpage then they are to forward an email about a product or service. Social media is a cheap, effective, and efficient advertising technique to spread information about a product or service over the Internet.
Email is still the most used form of communication over the Internet. Despite spam filters and general fear of opening mail from unknown senders, people that read emails give each message their undivided attention when they are reading them over. The feelings of receiving an email can make a potential client feel more significant and important because they received an email directly. This means of communication is also much more popular among older demographics. The use of email is also seen as less intrusive and a much more business friendly way of reaching out to new clients.
Communication in marketing
If a company is tasked with deciding how they want to start a new publicity campaign, they need to ask themselves some important questions first. What age demographic are they targeting? How much money are they willing to spend on their campaign? What is the point of the campaign; is it to sell a new product or service or to inform about changes to an existing one? By answering these questions, a company can effectively choose which form of communication should be used for their publicity campaign. Social media is best used for targeting the younger age demographics and spreading information quickly and cheaply. Emails are best sent when targeting older age demographics and are seen as a more classy business approach and less intrusive.
The use of one form of communication over the other has its benefits, but the real issue is what is the point of the publicity campaign. This is also why the study of communications is so closely related to modern marketing. Regardless, both strategies are quite useful at accomplishing their tasks and are becoming a more and more necessary use of business marketing in the advancing world of technology that we find ourselves living in today.
Bnonn. (2012). 5 reasons email marketing crushes social media marketing for b2b. Kissmetrics, Retrieved from http://blog.kissmetrics.com/email-crushes-social-media/
Hui C., Tyshchuk, Y., Wallace, W., Magdon-Ismail, M., & Goldberg, M. (2012). Information cascades in social media in response to a crisis: a preliminary model and a case study. SWDM’12 Workshop, Retrieved from http://www2012.wwwconference.org/proceedings/companion/p653.pdf
PewResearch. (2012). 62% vs. 60%- email vs. social networks. Pew Research Center, Retrieved from http://pewresearch.org/databank/dailynumber/?NumberID=1088
Wagner, T. (2012, August 28). Small business owners say social media feedback really clicks. NY 1, Retrieved from http://www.ny1.com/content/ny1_living/money_matters/167720/small-business-owners-say-social-media-feedback-really-clicks
Wasserman, T. (2012, March 27). Email is more popular than social media [study]. Mashable, Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/03/27/email-more-popular-social-media/
Wynne, R. (2012, July 02). Is social media a waste of time?. Forbes, Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2012/07/02/is-social-media-a-waste-of-time/