Being permanently connected, today’s consumer should no longer be approached in the same way as in the past. The Internet is becoming an inevitable channel and place of interaction. Consumers are gradually integrating the Internet into their buying, consuming, and recommending behavior. Social media, in particular, occupy a prominent place in the uses that consumers make of the Internet.
The era of social platforms
According to the “Annual Digital Report” of “We Are Social” and “Hootsuite”, in January 2019, there were more than 4.39 billion Internet users worldwide, 3.5 billion of whom use social media, with an increase of 288 million (9%) compared to January 2018. Meanwhile, Morocco has no less than 22.5 million Internet users or 62% of the population including 17 million social media users. A net progress of up to more than 6% in January 2019 compared to 2018.
Social media comes in the form of sites and platforms that offer social and user interaction features. They can create and share content there, exchange information, collaborate, etc. The content exchanged there is very varied (texts, photos, videos, etc.) and the interactions come in different forms (sharing, comments, etc.). These platforms allow individuals and organizations to create, develop, and animate social media. Social media around which communities have formed that foster the practice of influence. The challenges of social media were both to offer visibility (e-reputation) on the Internet and to exert influence (influence marketing) on finely determined targets. The important place occupied by social media in companies’ digital marketing strategies has given birth to several professions, the most important of which is “community management”. Thus, the “community manager” quickly rose to key positions in organizations.
Today, the stake is to make social media a place to drive transactions. Making sales via social media takes several forms and uses several tools and functionalities. Developing the presence on social media will no longer be limited to the community manager but will be increasingly invested by all employees, particularly the sales teams. It is the evolution towards a more global and collective logic of “Social Media Management”.
The advent of Social Shopping and Social Selling
Being at the crossroads of e-commerce and social networks, “social shopping” or “community shopping” is a fundamental characteristic of modern societies. Consumers have become active and have taken up spaces on social media to share their own content and interact with those of brands and other consumers. This is the beginning of the customer empowerment era or the advent of the active consumer. As a result, the consumer potentially becomes both an influencer and an influence. A community dynamic of recommendation/comparison with other customers/users is set up. Content shared by a consumer in the form of opinions, evaluations, returns on experience, “good deals”, … etc are precious disinterested information and constitute aid to decision-making and making choices for other consumers.
Aware of this community reality, companies have started to look for marketing techniques based on interactions with and between connected consumers. Thus, influencer marketing and social selling will become the spearhead of companies’ digital marketing strategy.
People media and influencer marketing
One of the fundamental characteristics of web 2.0 is to make people a form of media or rather supports of commercial communication. Through his/her presence on social networks, Man could convey and relay the commercial communication of the company as he will be able to design and share his own content that supports or otherwise denies a brand. Among all users, private or institutional, some social media stand out for the size, quality, and relevance of their networks for the purpose of e-reputation and commercial promotion for a brand. These are web influencers or e-influencers.
“Influencer marketing” relies on one or more leaders to promote a site, product or service. These leaders can be a public figure or a website of reference on a given theme and are chosen on the basis of their potential to influence in the context of a well-defined target taking into account budget constraints. By explicitly or implicitly recommending a brand’s products, these boost business performance.
Augmented Marketing and Salespeople
However, it could be both risky and even costly for a company to base its digital promotion approach solely on web influencers. This is how the entire sales team will be made aware and trained on the investment of social media for the purpose of commercial promotion and sales. Social commerce (s-commerce) is defined as the use of social media for sales development purposes in the era of the connected consumer. Social commerce should not be understood in its narrow sense of making sales directly on social media, this form being a marginal one. The integration of merchant spaces on social media (such as Facebook Marketplace) certainly enables sales to be made, but it is above all the applications for sharing and social recommendations that can be made on a site or at a point of sale that represent essential of the potential of social commerce. Beyond the simple use of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube… etc, social selling/commerce is strategically a step based on the notions of “personal-branding”, “content marketing”, “storytelling” and “networking”.
Sales teams must take ownership of digital tools and set up a social media strategy allowing them to know their market, promote and recommend their products, brands, and companies to their marketing and communication targets. The seller must give way to the augmented seller who has the know-how and the right attitude to mobilize the entire arsenal of digital technologies to boost commercial performance and better serve the objectives of the business in terms of prospecting, sales, and loyalty.
It would also be simplistic to think that social networks could be used only for promotional and transactional purposes. That is to say only to disseminate commercial information and to close sales. Social networks can make more of a difference when they are used to collect data that will be used to better understand customers and prospects. It is “Social Big Data” which today constitutes the major challenge of social networks. The resulting customer knowledge allows the company to properly calibrate its offer and implement a real “One to One” marketing strategy.
The conversational tools (chatbots, voicebots, virtual agents, etc.) integrated into digital platforms and more particularly into social platforms allow companies to interact in a dense, fast, and efficient manner with each of its customers and prospects. These interactions make it possible to respond to the need for “now” of consumers, to continuously feed customer data and to strengthen the position of the company in the context of time competition.
In conclusion, we can say that the real challenge of marketing today is to set up a system that relies on omni-channel communication and data collection and to explore the synergies between tools and online and offline marketing channels and take advantage of interactions between the brand and its audiences and also promote and monitor interactions between users of these platforms. It is also an issue of “augmented marketing” as part of digital strategies which are based on the right choice of tools, technologies, and channels to create and continually increase the value of the company’s offer for a connected, active consumer, increasingly informed, demanding, comparator and versatile.