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Published on July 6th, 2012 by Peter
Social media has made significant changes to the marketing landscape since its rise. Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 pioneered the AIDA sales funnel which is still a fundamental lesson taught to marketers everywhere; social media has given new meaning to each phase’s function during the purchasing process. Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action are the four cognitive phases consumers follow when going through a high-involvement purchase (a car as opposed to groceries). New world technology and social media have amplified these four phases to lend more influence on a buyer’s decision.
- Awareness is where the process begins. Its goal is to attract the attention of consumers. Television commercials, billboards and newspaper ads are the traditional methods for marketers. Now that people have moved more toward tablets and smartphones; a variety of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+) grabs the audiences’ attention much faster and with greater reach.
- Interest can only occur once you have become aware of a product. A consumer may come across a Facebook page of a product and this is where social media goes far beyond a two-dimensional newspaper ad. This is an opportunity for your brand to provide videos, infographics, customer testimonials and any other information about the product that will ensure your prospective client will remain interested in only your brand.
- Desire is the third stage of the sales funnel. The consumer has become interested in your product and now it is time to give them a unique selling proposition as to why your brand’s product is better than the competition. What is the value that comes with purchasing your brand? Celebrity endorsements, Twitter trends and an army of Facebook followers make your brand more appealing to consumers who want to be a part of something.
- Action is the last phase of the sales funnel. Social media has increased the call-to-actions not just for businesses but news stations, television channels and everything in between. How many times have you heard a news anchor say, “like us on Facebook” or “follow us on Twitter”. If a business can fulfill the first three steps; then the action of a purchase should happen naturally.
Social media marketing has turned word-of-mouth into a marketing principle all its own; Advocating. After a purchase has been made, fans of the brand can log onto their favorite social media site and share their opinion with thousands of users. The Facebook wall keeps all the comments contained to one place while Twitter allows the simple characters @ or # (hash tag) to add on to a brand name which gives a company a trending status. This principle can help a brand identify its most loyal customers. According to the Pareto Principle, 80 percent of purchases come from 20 percent of your consumers. Social media gives a company the opportunity to reward those loyal 20 percenters and turn them into brand ambassadors. Promotions like “Refer us to a friend and get your next purchase half off!” can really go a long way when keeping the loyal happy and bringing in new customers.
The old world marketing philosophy introduced by Elias St. Elmo Lewis is still as important today as it was in 1898, however, social media has given a new meaning to each of the four phases. Technology continues to change the way people communicate and share opinions, ideas and preferences. This ongoing conversation gives brands 24/7 exposure and a part in peoples’ lives. Today consumers are more brand loyal and can express this through a “like” or “follow” and advocate their favorite brand to millions of consumers online. The marketing landscape has definitely changed but everything still goes back to the roots of the AIDA sales funnel.
What do you think about the relationship between social media and marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.