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Marketing in general has always been the medium for communication between brands and customers – it moulds what a company wants to say into a form customers want to be involved in.

In the past a large part of marketing has come down to advertising, whether through print, radio, or television, but this form of marketing limits the interaction between brand and customer to a one-way conversation. The more personal forms of marketing, such as exhibitions and events, have been largely confined to B2B sales as this is where the maximum ROI is achieved.

So what has changed?

With the turn of the millennium came the seeds of change. With internet availability becoming more widespread it was not long before the virtual world started to overtake the physical in areas such as commerce and advertising. Now we have not only ecommerce sites by the thousand, but also review sites, social networking sites and deal sites such as GroupOn.

What does this change mean for marketing?

This technology has allowed for two-way communication between brands and consumers which fundamentally changes the way in which marketing is managed. No longer is marketing simply about managing the outward communication of a company, the company now also has to listen.

So is it simply a case of managing the consumer feedback from these sites?

Well, no. The power consumers now have to feedback to a worldwide community of spectators creates a feedback loop which can both bypass traditional marketing messages and create a negative spiral which can be hard to break. Essentially this means any brand's online presence must now be managed from the outset of any marketing campaign. This is where social media marketing strategy comes in.

In order to stave off any potential criticism and negative publicity through online media, brands must now market themselves through that very same media. The best social strategies always centre around consumer engagement rather than simply managing marketing messages. By engaging with customers, brands can use the feedback loop to create an upward spiral of positive publicity, generated by the public for the public.

Word-of-mouth is now the chief form of brand awareness and trust, and so to tap into that alongside traditional marketing, such as advertising, is key for any successful marketing effort. Sites like GroupOn and LivingSocial help deliver the need for word-of-mouth marketing by allowing a huge number of users access to one-time deals – a method now being incorporated into social sites such as Facebook and FourSquare.

However, the shift in focus and the growing importance of social media should not be seen as a substitution of traditional methods for modern methods, instead the two should work hand-in-hand to take full advantage of the new media. The fundamentals of marketing are still very firmly in place, even across this new media, and so marketers should be looking at how to expand their marketing to include the social sphere, and not simply to supplant their existing efforts with a social media strategy.

At Thread we are experts in both traditional marketing communications as well as social media marketing. Get in contact to see what we could do for your next campaign or take a look at our services.

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