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EDITORIAL How social media marketing holds the key to falling online growth

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In this week’s Growth 2000 newsletter we learn that social media and user generated content are becoming the mainstay of how consumers find out about products. They trust the views of their peers more than the marketing material that they receive from businesses and brands.

This presents growing retailers with a dilemma: how do they get their products known about and purchased? The obvious answer would appear to be to create a winning social media presence, court celebs and influencers and the job is done. In reality it is much harder to do than it appears.

According to the data out this week, what prospective customers really like is endorsements and content from their peers – so rather than trying to get Kanye or the Markles to make an unboxing video, you need to encourage your existing regulars to do that. This is where what your marketing department does changes. Now, rather than reaching out through more traditional marketing channels, marketers need to look at how to reach out and incentivise your best customers to create for you – and then turn that into a useful social media strategy.

This shift to consumer-to-business and even consumer-to-consumer marketing requires a rethink of what brands and retailers spend their marcomms budgets on. Half of consumers say that they would buy a product even if it had no professional photography, just snaps by customers, showing that being slick these days now relies on not filtering honest UGC from your customers.

The need to make this work is increasing. Online spend is dropping – even though they are still way ahead of pre-pandemic levels – and shoppers are increasingly turning their online spend to mobile. This too changes how marketing works and, if anything, makes social media even more important in the marketing mix.

Getting this right is going to be what drives growth in 2022 for SMEs and, so long as you can embrace the rethink in what marketing means – and what it does day-to-day in your company – then you can move with the times.

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