As the marketing power of social media grows, it no longer makes sense to treat it as an experiment. Here’s how senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision
making in predictable ways.
What we hope to do here is to demystify social media. We have identified its four primary functions—to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior—and linked them to the journey consumers undertake when making purchasing decisions.
Being able to identify exactly how, when, and where social media influences consumers helps executives to craft marketing strategies that take advantage of social media’s unique ability to engage with customers. It should also help leaders develop, launch, and demonstrate the financial impact of social-media campaigns (for insight into the world’s biggest social-media market, see “Understanding social media in China”).
In short, today’s chief executive can no longer treat social media as a side activity run solely by managers in marketing or public relations.
It’s much more than simply another form of paid marketing, and it demands more too: a clear framework to help CEOs and other top executives evaluate investments in it, a plan for building support infrastructure, and performance-management systems to help leaders smartly scale their social presence. Companies that have these three elements in place can create critical new brand assets (such as content from customers or insights from their feedback), open up new channels for interactions (Twitter-based customer service, Facebook news feeds), and completely reposition a brand through the way its employees interact with customers or other parties.