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Mileage Insights: Social Media — A Boon Or A Bane?

Mileage Insights: Social Media — A Boon or a Bane?

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During the turn of the century, academics and proponents of a liberal world order waxed lyrical about how social media could wield seemingly boundless potential for bringing people closer together. Social media was venerated as a medium which allowed the masses to liberate themselves with information, with talk about weaving ever-stronger bonds amongst a wider democratic citizenry through the digital fabric. In this contemporary information society, social media provides both opportunities and threats to entities that bear a digital presence. But by filling bandwidth within a growing spectrum of the online mediascape, it both simultaneously empowers and disempowers every single digital user.

With the dramatic evolution of user behaviours on social networking platforms, it has become apparent that targeted fragmentation is the go-to mechanism for social media marketers, who use targeted marketing in social media as a conduit to funnel specific information to specific users at specific times. Over time, this has resulted in organic, well-meaning content being edged out of the social media sphere in favour of pay-to-play advertising mechanisms on the major social media networks. A digital user’s pathway through social media, from start to end, can now be bought and sold, programmed, and engineered away. The empowerment sought by the digital user, in his or her endeavour to seek out content or data beyond the immediate horizon, can now be molded to feed the user with targeted content from advertisers. To the unknowing digital user at the mercy of advertising by corporate giants, what they have left is merely an illusion of control.

A lack of norms or centralised institutional power that guides the use of the social media sphere has also allowed the potential for abuse. Information and disinformation campaigns, of political or marketing nature, can be run without the consent of the networked masses. Government regulation is also unable to stop the disempowerment of the networked masses, as enforcement and regulatory tools to curb unaccountable advertising patterns via social media targeting mechanisms remain to be seen. On the ethics front, the marketing of products to young children, the vulnerable, and the elderly via social media is highly contentious, for these demographics are susceptible to the risk of being manipulated or misled by ads that are targeted at them. This has, however, not stopped marketers from launching campaigns on social networks targeted at such individuals.

For marketers that have jumped on the digital bandwagon, the development of complex analytical tools to analyse, track, and tweak consumer behaviours on social media have been an incredible boon. The growth of tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter allow immense coercive power to be brought upon brands. To the digital marketer, the social mediascape is now a relative game on getting the targeted product or service to the consumer by edging out key competitors via social media. To the social media user, it is a zero-sum game as the empowerment to purchase a product or service is predicated upon information asymmetry — a knowledge, or lack thereof, of the product or service. Thus, for the digital marketer, it is imperative that social media marketing is done appropriately, for it is now central in getting the targeted message across to the user through what can be a very cost-effective platform.

Actionable social marketing goals must be set for social media marketing, bolstered by metric tracking analysis and data analytic software which allows the researched target audience to establish a link to the product or service. This allows the social media marketer to analyse competition, to see what competitors are doing, to create and curate engaging content, and for such work to be subsequently analysed and optimised. In the present social media environment, brands and agencies can turn data-driven insights into engagement opportunities. Automation of the previous generation’s manual efforts in digital media within artificial intelligence-powered social media analytic engines allow owned and earned data points to be pitted against contextual insights and methodical predictions — all of which drive stronger business decisions.

Consumers, through their journey at navigating the social space, put out their experiences across the mediascape which impact brands, products, and industries. Harnessing a flexible solution that allows marketers to monitor social media for relevant mentions and instantly accessible insights, social media marketers allow brands to be able to stay ahead of the game. As the navigation of the social media environment is a zero-sum game for the consumer, there exists an upper limit to the engagement potential for the brand. Powerful social analytics and engineered research can help brands to quickly make sense of mass amounts of social data, surfacing only the important insights that make for better, data-driven decisions.

Prior to actioning a statement through social media, marketers need to listen to their audience. While millions of social conversations happen globally, marketers need to tune in the relevant ones in order to be part of a substantive dialogue process. A competitive tracking tool which analyse competitors, allows for the benchmarking of performance against the range of competitors. Measurement metrics which share the voice across the industry build the brand’s digital health, enabling the monitoring of consumer perception trends, patterns of user interaction, and news coverage. For the marketer, this leads to a greater understanding of how campaigns and products are seen through unprompted engagements. This is especially relevant in crisis management, where artificial intelligence-powered automatic alerts can deliver insights for marketers to act quickly and protect the brand’s reputation.

A simplification of online monitoring workflow can assist in the relatively quick achievement of brand alignment, as producing social content and effective campaigns across multiple channels is complicated. The complexity of assets, text rules, and changing paid and organic content requirements require a deft and adept digital marketer who can manage content and brand voice through appropriate media scheduling. For it to all work smoothly, the planning and execution of marketing campaigns via social media rely on a centralised content calendar and asset repository with media validation by each channel. Ultimately, all this will allow the marketer to discover top performing content and assets from the brand and quickly distribute it for best practice sharing in other regions or marketing teams working on traditional channels.

With all the advancements in big data and analytics software, social media marketing presents a huge opportunity, and social media is thus a boon for the digital marketer when the entire social media marketing strategy is played well. Payoffs may be significant, but in cases where the product, service, or brand is edged out by competitors, a reduction of brand equity or low consumer recall to a product or service may result due to the nature of the digital user’s zero-sum game of information asymmetry. To the average user of social media, empowerment is merely incremental, for consuming information provided to them via social networks is ever-increasingly filtered through marketing and analytical contact points.

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