Social Media Marketing developments have caught most businesses unaware. A good point to start making sense; is to understand the trends and their corresponding impact on business.

Trends - The Social Media Marketing Impact pervades both the Business and its Consumers

(i) Impact on the Consumer Buying Process from pre-purchase to post-purchase

A recent Mckinsey study on Social Media Marketing highlighted an insight around Social Media’s influence on the Consumer Buying Process. Social Media is in a unique position to engage with customers’ right from the stage of consideration to consumer advocacy. Thus, Social Media Marketing Services straddles the entire timeline from pre-purchase to post-purchase.

(ii) Referrals - Key output from Social Media Marketing Services Tools

Customers are increasingly relying on Social Media referrals as they research prospective products and services.

(iii) Consumer Activism - It is your Consumers who control Social Media

Owing to the democratic ease of airing complaints and product feedback, consumers are leveraging Social Media to share their unpleasant experiences. And it is working out, in the favor of the consumers.

(iv) Flippancy and Information Overload - Not all Tweets are useful for Business

With the above business value, there is also associated loose talk and malice that permeates across all social networks. Thus, businesses have this added headache of curating all the mumble jumble being played out in Social Media Marketing networks.

Opportunities Exist, but Businesses have to make the effort

(i) B2C Yes, B2B might have to wait; no harm in getting started with Social Media Marketing

For B2C businesses, social media is serving its purpose well of reaching out to customers and prospects by listening to the voice of customers almost in real time. However, questions around ROI remain especially when it comes to actual sales or transactions. B2B businesses can use this time to start experimenting with the various Social Media Marketing tools and test them for business development and customer engagement.

(ii) Organic Promotion with Quality Content - A Big Selling point of Social Media Marketing Tools

Despite offering numerous opportunities to influence consumers, the social media spend is very small compared to the overall market budget. Investments in Social Media Marketing Services have remained small because senior executives are yet to develop familiarity and there is a question mark on business metrics. At the same time, businesses are seeing promise in offering quality content to consumers through Social Media, thereby creating equity and enduring relationships. It is coming down to Inbound Marketing Vs Outbound Marketing. Consumers are more interested in useful information (Inbound Marketing) than marketing information (Outbound Marketing).

(iii) Social Media Marketing ROI - Show me the Money ?

ROI on Social Media is a grey area for most businesses considering investments. Nevertheless, a systematic approach guided by strategic objectives could unravel the latent business value of Social Media. Pilots could play a pivotal role in taking a long-term approach with respect to Social Media Marketing investments. This strategic approach has the potential to impact organization-wide processes and existing skill sets of team members across functions because with Social Media every employee is a Marketer now.Is your business taking advantage of this opportunity? Would you be enthusiastic to share some of your results and experiences?This blog post is brought to you by Inbound Mantra - a Data Driven Inbound Marketing Agency.