The rise of new media over recent years has dramatically changed the way people interact with one another, which, in turn, empowers customers to take an active role in corporate marketing. Consumers today are directors on YouTube, retailers on eBay, advertisers on Facebook, and authors on Wikipedia. According to a 2010 study, customers have become “highly active partners, serving as customers as well as producers and retailers.” The rise in new media challenges old established business models that provide no opportunity for customer feedback or interaction.
The study lists 6 criteria for new media: digital, pro-active, existing in real-time, ubiquitous, and using networks; examples would include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Blogspot. The study examines how the rise in social media has enabled consumers to go beyond business’s traditional expectations, which pushes corporations to adapt their marketing strategies to this changing relationship.
Ted Matherly, a marketing PhD student studying consumer behavior, agrees that the rise in new media has redefined old established marketing models.
Whereas old business strategies solely aim to create awareness for a particular brand or company, new advertising techniques attempt to engage customers to endorse products to others. If a person uses social media to endorse a product, then someone in their network may see the endorsement and decide to advertise the product in their own network. Thus, the popularity of the brand grows exponentially and reaches people from all different networks.
Zachary Arens, a marketing PhD student specializing in consumer attitudes measurement, also notes that social media allows for better communication between businesses and customers.
Because marketing has become less about broadcasting and more about interaction, businesses can address customers’ demands more efficiently and effectively. However, not all businesses realize the benefits of turning to social media. Mr. Arens notes, “There’s a lot of failures where firms want to take the old approach, and they’re often really unsuccessful at it. They should take more of an approach where they work directly with bloggers and people on Facebook, and use this new media to get their message out in a social media environment.”
Dr. Bill Rand, assistant professor of marketing at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith Business School explains that when corporations utilize new media, they capitalize on the fact that other people’s opinions have a large effect on what consumers buy.
Social media allows users to clearly see what other people are talking about, which affects what they think of a certain brand. If companies utilize this aspect of social media successfully, then their brand gains a substantial amount of endorsement and feedback through reblogs, tweets, and Facebook posts.
Similarly to Mr. Arens, Dr. Rand believes that firms must adapt to these changing ways of communication or get left behind. A company that adapted particularly well to these changes is Old Spice
Whereas Old Spice was previously marketed for older men, the company used the rise in new media to capitalize on the opportunity to attract a younger generation. The Old Spice commercials
have become viral videos, spread throughout YouTube.
The effect of social media has reached the marketing strategies of University of Maryland’s Student Entertainment Events (SEE
), which coordinates events such as concerts, comedy shows, movies, lectures, and performing arts for the student body. Seth Backer, marketing director of SEE, talks about the effect of social media on SEE’s advertising techniques.
Over the years, SEE has become increasingly more involved with social media and, as a result, refining its advertising techniques within social media. Whereas advertising through Facebook used to mean inviting people to events, SEE directors now promote events by changing their profile pictures to advertisements for upcoming events and updating their statuses with a link to the event page.
While SEE is still exploring Twitter
, social media offers a promising way to successfully advertise for events. As Mr. Backer pointed out, all of SEE’s involvement with social media makes the organization seem more personable – an effective strategy that takes an interactive approach with audiences.
According to Pew
, 82 percent of 18-29 year olds use some form of social networking. Because SEE is an organization aimed at providing entertainment for college students, its use of Twitter, Facebook, and Blogspot is especially effective in reaching UMD students.
According to expert opinion, the study is valid in asserting that the popularity of new media has a significant effect on consumer relationships. This rise in new media gives users the opportunity to provide information for their own services and products, which threatens old established business models and marketing strategies. Although new media forces businesses to adapt to accommodate the more active role of consumers, new media also provides endless opportunities to create new means of communication and connect with costumers.