In social media, marketers buy attention with promotions or discounts. And research shows consumers expect this from marketers. 44% connect with brands on Twitter for discounts (source). The problem is, buying attention is an old school mindset, plopped into a new communication paradigm.
For social media to become an important part of the marketing mix and create loyal customers, it cannot continue to rely on tactics that reinforce consumer price sensitivity. Consistent discounts and promotions erode your pricing power; preference increases your pricing power.
Or, as Jay Baer said much more sucintly on Twitter last week, “You can only buy love for so long”. (Thanks Jay, one cheeky response sparked an entire post).
How can social media create preference? I would love to hear your answers to this question below. In the meantime, here are three keys I see to creating preference and how each one can apply in social media.
Know Your Audience
Why does your audience choose you? This is much more than a broad industry, title or demographic definition, it requires focusing on a segment of that audience, defined by preferences in your category (value, feature, quality, integration, etc) that align with your offering. This is your preference segment.
In social media, your interaction and content must focus on your preference segment. Your position may alienate some. That is OK. You are connecting with your audience, not the broader market.
Example: Alienware targets gamers. They serve an audience looking for the ultimate in performance and willing to pay a premium for it. In social media, they do not need to be concerned with someone only looking for Microsoft Word, email and web browsing. A quick look at @alienware confirms even though they are owned by Dell, they are not a traditional computer company.
Your product must deliver a great experience for your preference segment. Not every great experience will be shared. But create enough and some will be shared online and offline. Social media marketing cannot overcome a consistently poor customer experience.
Imagine if Alienware started selling low performance PCs positioned as gaming systems. Although they might be great computers for someone, they would not meet the demands of Alienware’s preference segment. The experience would be poor and Alienware would lose credibility with their core audience.
Value requires more than today’s standard stream of marketing content or social media posts. Delivering real value requires content or engagement focused on the area where your knowledge and ability intersects with your audience’s needs or interests.
Promotions and discounts can definitely deliver social media fan and follower numbers. But is this the only path for social media, or can activities like those outlined above drive preference? Share your view below or with me on Twitter.