In 2014, it is estimated that there will be around 1.82 billion social network users around the globe. A massive pool of potential customers for a brand, a captured audience addicted to what their peers are liking and talking about, and above all a great basis for a mass marketing campaign. Or is it?

For a long time, social media has been an integral part of a brand’s marketing efforts. In fact, social media advertising spend on mobile increased to £221.8 million in 2013, and UK advertisers spent a record £6.3 billion to reach people via the Internet.

Although marketers continue to spend large amounts of their budgets on social media advertising, they are also starting to question its return on investment (ROI). Last autumn, Forrester analyst, Nate Elliot raised concerns that marketers were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with social media advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn. He discussed how executives felt that Facebook creates less business value than any other digital marketing opportunities.

To mirror this, a recent US survey suggested that social media advertising isn't nearly as effective as industry giants like Facebook and Twitter would like to think it is. 62 per cent of the 18,000 people surveyed said social media advertising has no effect on their purchase decisions at all. This is a worrying statistic for marketers.

Social media marketing should not be a replacement for other marketing tactics. In fact, it should sit alongside your overall strategy. Using social media combined with other marketing activities can massively increase the awareness of a brand, but alone it can go unnoticed.

The most common social media objective among marketers is to build brand awareness, but consumers are more likely to ‘follow’ or ‘like’ a company if they are already a customer. This means marketers should use Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to engage their existing customers than to find new ones.

Consumers tend to react positively to brands that offer an experience rather than marketing driven messages through social media platforms. For example, a comfortable demonstration of the latest TV, being able to listen to their favourite music through new headphones, money off vouchers, or simply being educated on what a product does and listened to. This kind of activity encourages more engagement from potential new customers to buy into the brand.

By using empty retail space on a short-term basis, brands can create a tailored experiential journey, which demonstrates a product, answers consumers questions, offers a discount and crucially guides the buyer to a point of purchase. It offers a high impact campaign, maximum visibility and consumer engagement, whilst increasing sales.

Creating an experience in an environment already geared for shopping is becoming an increasingly important way for brands to engage potential sales and one that should be adopted fast.

Experiential centres are a great way of converting those potential customers in to dedicated social media brand followers that will help drive positive ROI for your overall marketing strategy.


By Simon Ellson, CEO at NexusEngage

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