Promotion, one of the 4 P’s of marketing, includes any means of spreading the word about a product or service. Identifying groups of potential customers is just the first step in selling; an equally important component of any marketing strategy is the selection of communication tool that will be used to carry the marketing message. Companies rely heavily on mass media advertising to communicate to their customers, simply because the cost of advertising per viewer is very low. Although creating a television ad might cost millions of pesos, the ad will also be viewed by millions of people. However, mass media offers the lowest level of trust among audiences. After years of being bombarded by television and radio commercials, many people have developed a resistance to the messages conveyed in the mass media. In fact, the majority of people just mute their TV sets or switch channels during commercial breaks.

Recently, the Internet has become a very popular venue for companies to reach out to their customers. Marketers have recognized that Internet marketing is capable of delivering high-trust communication to their target audiences. Some companies have experimented with different communication modes, such as blogs. A blog is an example of how companies can use the Web to engage in communications that closely resemble the high-trust personal mode of communication versus the low-trust mass media mode, without incurring the high costs that both methods entail. Other examples of Internet advertising are banner ads, pop-up ads, site sponsorships, e-mail marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). More recently, companies have been utilizing social media such as Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat to communicate to their target audience, who are almost always online on these platforms.

Many have considered social media as a passing marketing interest, probably because it appeared and gained popularity a little too quickly. However, for some entrepreneurs, social media marketing is a powerful trend that must be taken advantage of. Social media has demonstrated huge potential for boosting a company’s sales by reaching the correct market. There are almost 1.23 billion monthly active Facebook users, 757 million of which use the platform daily. Imagine that number seeing your brand every day; you gain access to potential customers, current customers and even lost customers. It makes a brand very familiar and recognizable. Personally, I can think of a couple of times when I tried a new product just because I kept seeing it on my Facebook news feed.

When used properly, social media is an effective communication channel. It is the fastest way to disseminate information related to your brand. It is also an avenue to demonstrate a company’s customer service level, which in turn will enrich its relationship with the customers. Communicating to your customers is a personal experience that lets them know you care about them. Other than this, the nature of the Web, with its two-way communication features and traceable connection technology, allows firms to gather more information about customer behavior and preferences than they can when using micromarketing approaches. As a company, this improves your customer insight. Information such as which pages are often viewed, how long each page was viewed, and other similar date can be easily tracked. This data helps firms analyze customer behavior, preferences, needs and buying patterns, which in turn they can use to determine prices, create promotions, or add product features. This connection to the audience helps in creating an intense feeling of loyalty toward the company and its products or services.

While the Web and social media seem like a marketing team’s dream, one must also be wary of the consequences brought about by using them as a marketing tool. If not addressed properly, these can be detrimental to your business. The sheer number of people using the Web and social media means that there are all sorts people lurking in cyberspace, including negative and malicious ones. These include spammers, scammers, and internet trolls who go all out just to ruin somebody’s online reputation. Also, as easy as it is to disseminate good and positive information about your brand, it also takes that small amount of time for negative and malicious content to spread online. A bad promotion or even something as small as a marketing material with an embarrassing typographical error can spread like wildfire once it’s been published online. With the advent of screenshots, it can be a challenge to remove anything that has been available in the World Wide Web. Lastly, compared to traditional methods of advertising such as TV commercials and print ads, the Return on Investment (ROI) of Internet marketing efforts is harder to define. Companies need this type of feedback so they can evaluate accordingly if their marketing efforts generate the result that they are gunning for.

At the end of the day, companies should ensure that their online marketing initiatives are always aligned with their traditional marketing efforts. For example, print ads should include a company’s website and social media accounts. Likewise, companies should exert extra caution when using online marketing, most especially through social media platforms. Online marketing, social media marketing in particular, when done right can lead to more customers, more site traffic and increase in sales. However, if done badly, it is also a surefire way to damage brand identity and kill customer loyalty.