Niche is the new mainstream

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ITWeb Social Media Summit 2012

We've all heard that we should be 'doing' social media, that it can transform our organisations, up our bottom lines and change the way we do business. With so much excitement in the air, it's become difficult to see through the hype. Join us at the inaugural ITWeb Social Media Summit, from 14 to 16 August, where local social media experts and corporate practitioners will share their insights, strategies and best practices that cut through the buzz to the heart of the real business issues. For more information and to reserve your seat, click here.

The rampant spread of social media means successful marketers will have to tailor their messages to suit multiple interest groups in future.

This is according to Scott Gray, head of strategy at Quirk, who says the days of churning out a clever, one-size-fits-all marketing message and considering the job done are over.

“In South Africa, everyone is starting to see the benefits of marketing through social media, but too many feel the main advantages are that it is cheap and easy. Social media marketing is a lot more than that,” he says.

Gray says social networking is having the effect of breaking people into networks of interest groups, which means marketing interaction needs to be tailored to suit the needs of these groups. “You have to target smarter,” he says.

The days of a generic message broadcast to the mass market are nearing an end, he feels. In addition, marketing through social media needs to be a two-way exchange of attention, he notes.

“So, saying 'tweet this' and leaving the message out there isn't enough. That would be like walking into a pub, announcing 'I am wearing blue shoes', and then leaving. It wouldn't work.”

This niche marketing and ongoing conversation will require a great deal more from marketers in terms of time and resources, Gray says. But it cannot be ignored. Digital marketing, he adds, is not just one channel - it spans all the marketing channels and is part of the overall marketing mix.

There needs to be a reshuffling of objectives by marketers, Gray says, with a greater focus on relationships.

He adds: “Marketers are going to get a lot busier - too many brand managers are unfit right now to ride this new wave. They may argue that digital is still a new channel, but its use is growing exponentially. To quote science-fiction writer William Gibson: 'The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet'. It's just a matter of time before words like 'digital' and 'social' become redundant in the marketing context, as they will become a regular part of everyday marketing practice.”

Gray is a speaker at the ITWeb Social Media Summit, which takes place from 14 to 16 August, at The Forum, in Bryanston. For more information, click here.

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