Friday, May 1, 2009

Social Media Is A Tactic

You can’t read anything marketing related these days that doesn’t mention social media. And with a short enough memory, you might even think social media is the only vehicle presently available to marketers. Certainly the pundits think so.

The expansion of social media is a phenomenon worth noting. Participation has been growing at an astonishing rate and its ability to influence public opinion is remarkable. It has given consumers a bully pulpit, and they haven’t shied away from using it. Yet despite the medium’s popularity, it is only one option among many and not necessarily the right choice for every company or situation.

From a business standpoint, social media is simply a tactic. And like all tactics, why and how it is used determine its efficacy. Social media, TV, radio, print, collateral, product design, pricing, distribution, etc. are all tools for managing people’s perceptions. The key to using any marketing tool effectively is in knowing which perception, if created, will produce advantageous business results.

When a business knows which consumer audience matters most to its success and how it would ideally be perceived, it becomes fairly self-evident when and how to use tactics. The impression a company desires to create is a strategic filter guiding its behavior. A company that is struggling to determine how it’s going to use social media likely doesn’t have the strategic foundation to use it (or any other tactic) effectively and might want to abstain until it does.

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