The term Web 2.0 describes the internet as a medium for users to generate content, share information, interact and collaborate, as opposed to websites just giving information and users simply accessing it. Social media originated as a personal tool, a medium for users to interact with friends and family. It has evolved into an essential medium for companies to develop relationships with customers and interact with them, creating loyalty, and is the optimal means of word-of-mouth marketing. The three largest social networking services are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
The power of social networking sites is best demonstrated in statistics. Facebook now has over 845 million users, up from the 100 million reached in August 2008. The phenomenal growth since its inception in 2004 is reflected in the graph in the included graph. In Cambodia, there are over 470,000 Facebook users, according to socialbakers.com which publishes social network statistics. In 2011, Twitter claimed to have over 200 million registered users and LinkedIn now has 135 million users, growing by 2 members per second.
According to socialbakers.com, the company with the largest following on Facebook is Coca-Cola with 38.5 million fans, followed by Starbucks with 28 million, and Red Bull with 26.4 million. McDonalds added 2.9 million fans in the last month. In terms of Twitter, Lady Gaga is followed by 18.9 million users.
It is absolutely essential for a company to have a social media marketing strategy integrated with their traditional marketing plan. Social media marketing involves engagement, customers are participating and interacting rather than viewing, and the end goals are to gain traffic and attention, build brand visibility and loyalty, and have the customer co-create value, especially through positive word-of-mouth advertising with their connections.
Social media marketing has many advantages. The scope of reach is unparalleled, with access to a global audience with the potential for users to forward content of interest to their links, an unlimited web of connections. Encouraging personal customer interactions will provide valuable feedback on products and services and demonstrate that the company cares and is listening. A company can learn about their customer base and target market by evaluating visitor analytics and posted commentary. Social media marketing is cost-effective, with a great deal of it free for starters.
On the downside, social media marketing involves significant time and effort. Content must be creative and innovative, and kept up to date. Commentary and customer feedback can also be negative and therefore a company must be prepared to manage and control this real-time.
The easiest way to start is to simply set-up a facebook business page, since it apparently has close to 12% of the world’s population using it. The best way to do this is through a personal account as the business page will be easy to manage and access, and you can invite friends and members of groups to become fans of the page or “like” the page, building an audience. A company can place their logo, description of the business, products, mission, locations, website, email and telephone numbers, and select a user name which will be accessible through search engines. Content such as special offers, events, product improvements, coupons, awards, sales, and videos can be posted.
Cambodian companies are taking a social media marketing seriously, have a look at SMART Mobile’s and ABA Bank’s fan pages on facebook for some good examples.
Anthony Galliano is the chiefexecutive of Cambodian InvestmentManagement. [email protected]