Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Buyer Influence and Social Media Marketing


According to the latest eMarketer assessment, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and social media marketing are not a logical mix. CPG companies tend to focus on attempting to reach a passive "mass audience" of docile consumers -- while social media is more focused on actively engaging independent-thinking people.

"By looking at social media as a way to listen to consumers, respond to their needs and create ongoing dialogue -- instead of as another way to advertise to them -- CPG companies can reinvigorate their marketing and create new bonds with consumers," said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst.

The CPG industry is turning its attention toward online advertising, but remains firmly committed to traditional media. Spending on social network advertising represents only a small fraction of the total investment going to that channel, according to Nielsen AdRelevance.

Still, the Nielsen figures represent only image-based ad spending, and do not include any other social marketing outlays. Some CPG companies wisely consider social media engagement to be something that's earned, rather than something you buy. They invest in promotional interactions and blogger relations -- rather than CPM-based display advertising.

Measuring the link between social media engagement and sales is made more difficult by the fact that many CPG products, such as cake mix and soda, are not typically purchased online. But, that doesn't mean that online engagement can't influence off-line buyer behavior.

So, why don't more companies attempt to influence purchases with meaningful information and guidance? Clearly, the decisive content that's missing from most marketing communications is substantive "how-to" insight that aids people to select a product from all the other alternatives.