It’s a well-known fact that a big hurdle for most small and medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) is raising brand awareness. It’s also a well-known fact that social media plays a powerful role in allowing businesses to gain access to a large audience of potential consumers. So it shouldn’t be surprising that a recent LinkedIn study found that about 81 percent of SMBs are using social media, and 94 percent are doing so for marketing purposes. And “hyper growth” companies (those who report large year-over-year revenue growth) rely heavily on social media: ninety-one percent of hyper growth companies claim that social media helped raise brand awareness.
Established brands have also realized that social media, when used well, can be a powerful tool to positively promote themselves. While consumers have become immune to most ads that surround them, social media can help brands break through peoples’ consciousness with clever and engaging content. When “The Old Spice Man” TV spots featuring Isaiah Mustafa became popular, the brand used social media to continue a conversation that had gone viral. After fielding questions on their Twitter account, Old Spice released a series of YouTube videos with answers from “The Old Spice Man.”
In 2013, one of the most viral spots of was Chipotle’s haunting “The Scarecrow” video, which was solely released on YouTube and currently has over 12 million views. Oreo’s witty Super Bowl 2013 tweet amassed over 15,000 retweets and was arguably the top ad moment of the event. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire marketing team used Tumblr to curate a very believable magazine from Panem to engage fans as the premiere date approached — the film was the biggest movie of 2013.
As marketers turn to social media to engage their audience, analytic tools have been created to easily quantify impact. Marketers rely on simple measures such as number of likes or views, paid reach vs. organic reach. A methodology called social listening allows us to learn more about audience demographics.
But what if marketers want to learn more about the effectiveness of their social media content beyond reach and number of likes? What if marketers want to understand who their audience is beyond basic demographics? More and more brands will be coming to market research firms with these kinds of questions. It’s up to us to keep up with the changing marketing landscape and develop innovative tools to answer these in-depth questions and understand how social media can be optimally used.