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5 ways social media will change your marketing plan

As a recent study showed that companies are spending more and more of their marketing budgets on social media, the benefits of this channel to brands are becoming clearer. Social media allows businesses to connect with a vast pool of potential customers, in a range of innovative ways that encourage individuals to share content in a collaborative manner.

For marketers, there are significant opportunities, but to assume that this is ‘just another’ marketing channel would be a grave mistake. Social media may offer significant potential, but the way in which marketers must drive these benefits means that marketing plans are very different to traditional means and this will become more and more critical over time.

Social media change marketing plans in a number of different ways.

Brevity is becoming more and more important.

Social users are becoming less and less willing to spend a lot of time trying to decipher the messages being sent their way. Sites like Twitter take this to the absolute extreme, where messages or tweets are restricted to just 140 characters, but social users are generally looking for brief content that is easy to understand. There’s also the issue of bandwidth. With more and more users turning to mobile devices, the risk of a slow connection means that consumers simply don’t have much time to offer any more.

Transparency is key

Social marketing doesn’t allow brands and businesses to hide behind corporate speak and carefully worded messages. Unless messages are open and transparent social audiences will react badly and can quickly apply pressure to businesses to change their approach. This is no longer a 9-to-5 occupation either. Social users are online 24 hours a day and expect brands and businesses to operate in exactly the same way.

Personalisation is now replacing traditional segmentation

Marketing campaigns have also attempted to identify customers in distinct groups or segments based on factors such as their age, location and occupation. Segmentation can be quite effective in driving the right response rates, but over time, there is a growing need for a much smaller level of personalisation. As social data swell, campaigns will need to target customers based on this information, identifying how they behave in much smaller, refined groups and making far fewer generalisations.

Search marketing is becoming less dependent on search engines

Marketers have traditionally focused their energies on ensuring the best result placement in the big search engines like Google and Bing. While this remains important for now, these sites are increasingly turning to social data to influence their results, acknowledging the groundswell of opinion and activity on sites like Twitter and Facebook. It’s possible that over time users will start to see the social sites as the source of all their content and marketers need to be able to respond to this changing mixture of traffic sources.

Internet ‘sites’ are changing

The traditional view of what makes a distinct Internet site is now changing. Web marketing has previously focused on driving traffic into or through a site where that site is largely a domain. Now, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and YouTube channels are becoming seen as sites in their own right. This can affect the way in which marketing plans are developed. It is a lower granularity of data and potentially requires a more structured approach.

Social media are changing the way in which businesses operate and the way in which consumers connect with those businesses. Marketing is an obvious part of this strategy and over time, social media will have a significant impact on the way in which this is planned.