As online content in the form of social media continues to grow in record numbers, the discipline of relationship marketing has never been so important. We live in an age where technology plays a large role in how we engage and interact with our favourite brands, and our preferred products and services are more accessible than ever. This is why it is essential that companies are reaching their target market and not creating marketing campaigns just to chalk up numbers on the board.
We recently saw that Facebook was out to combat the online companies that allow brands to ‘buy’ likes. The online companies would sell a certain amount of ‘likes’ to a brand to give the illusion that their page was more popular than it actually is. While a normal ‘like’ is associated to an individual, these purchased ‘likes’ are linked to false online identities, similar to spam Twitter followers. With the going rate for 1000 ‘likes’ on Facebook being only $90, you can see the appeal for unrecognised businesses trying to make a name for themselves. Although it might give the illusion that the page is quite popular, it will bring absolutely no extra activity to the page.
The reason brands have created social media pages is so that they can engage first hand with their customers, so buying ‘likes’ can actually make their brand less appealing. A page might have 100,000 ‘likes’ but if you went to visit the page and there is no interaction between the fans and a company, nothing is being gained. A page with fewer but very responsive fans will show better results than a page with more fans but no engagement.
For Facebook to take action on this is a very good move for several reasons. The first reason being, it leads other legitimate Facebook users on. When a consumer is looking for brands online, they will check to see how many followers and ‘likes’ the company has and this can determine the new found relationship. With the current option of purchasing popularity being available, this can be very misleading and could mean that consumers engage with brands that might not be right for them. Secondly, it will help to ensure that Facebook is a trustworthy and accurate advertising platform. Companies that are using Facebook ads could be receiving inaccurate numbers due to the false accounts that are bein g created and purchased.
So just why is it better to create a tailored online campaign rather than just going for numbers?
Even though purchasing ‘likes’ might make the campaign look successful on paper, it doesn’t increase sales for your products and services. With social media brings accountability. Look at it this way – say you own a line of makeup and as always, are looking to increase sales and share of voice. As a basic and familiar example, if you were to create a marketing campaign and were including advertising, you would obviously want to place these adverts where your target audience will see them, right? So instead of spending money and placing ads in every publication possible, you would target publications that your customers would read. You will see significantly better results placing the adverts in Cleo rather than GQ. You know there is no point of reaching out to consumers who have no interest in your brand. Your digital relationship marketing is, by its nature, a tailored and strategic approach ensuring you are interacting with consumers who are actually interested in your brand.
Luxury car company, Audi, has recently launched a new portal which showcases how digital relationship marketing can be successful. Audibrandexperience.com.au was created to give Audi customers (and the curious) an understanding of what it is like to live an Audi life, beyond simply driving one of its vehicles. When purchasing luxury cars, people know there is a particular lifestyle and attitude that comes with the brand you choose. This is what Audi consistently taps into, so with MassMedia it created an online version. The portal captivates the audience through six communities; contemporary art, theatre, golf, sailing, film, and motor sport. The portal also shares access to VIP tickets and backstage passes to exclusive events, further appealing to the lifestyle of those who own an Audi. Facebook and Twitter are subsequently used to draw users to the site and to amplify the message among the target crowd.
The overall experience will more strongly appeal to Audi’s target audience, rather than the general public, which in turn will see better results. This again highlights the need for ensuring your approach is targeted. If Audi had targeted demographics that could not afford their vehicles or didn’t live the lifestyle that comes with owning luxury cars, there would be little interaction between brand and consumer.
With technology now allowing brands to create highly interactive campaigns and socially engage with consumers better than ever before, it’s important that the right consumers are targeted. Long running campaigns can be expensive, but will return great results if done correctly. The ROI is strong. A successful relationship marketing campaign will utilise the ever-growing popularity of social media and other online platforms but will only target your audience, to maximise exposure. Remember, it’s about quality of users, not quantity.