Online Participation – The New (& key) Ingredient in the Marketing Mix

Whether you are a a marketer or not, chances are you might have heard of the 4 Ps of marketing – Product, Place, Price & Promotion. In fact this traditional mix has often times been disrupted and newer P’s (such as people, processes etc) have bee added to make the mix more dynamic and in line with contemporary times.

But in the age of millennial driven choices and market dynamics, (Online) Participation or ‘Social Media engagement’ has emerged as the real contender for the 5th P in the marketing mix. We are in the age of disruption and constant flux, be it in digital mediatechnology, product life cycle, promotion tactics or any other sphere. But in this constant shifting space, one stable trend has emerged and that is Online Participation.

Humans are hardwired to be social and the rise of social media space is indicative of our inherent nature to ‘engage’. A key tool for relationship building & management is engagement. Organisations that harness the power of digital media are not only changing their perception of how the world perceives them, but it also fundamentally alters the thinking of the organisation itself.

But most social marketers would attest to this – Creating social media channel for a brand is easy, getting viewers to participate/engage/advocate is not. That is why it is becoming increasingly important to replace ‘online promotion’ with  ‘online participation’. Here’s a list on why Online Participation matters and how it can impact brand perception:

>> Organisation-Public relations:  Relatioonline participationnships – Reputation – Revenues – these three R’s are intricately connected. Studies  have shown that digital public relations has value to an organization as it cultivates quality relationships with public and develops a favourable reputation in the market. In the post-modern digital era, developing a formidable reputation in the public eye, requires you to engage in online forums to develop healthy relation with your audience organically.

>> Digital currency: Every brand worth its salt today has online presence in social media platforms. As per a study done by a popular social media agency, customers expect brands to be on at least 2-3 social media channels, the most popular being Facebook. Social media in press relations also gives brands a chance to forge genuine relationships with their customers and understand their pain points and address their concerns directly.

>> Real-Time conversation: Be it a new update, a live event coverage or addressing a customer complaint / query, the real-time participation that digital media offers, is exclusive and a perfect example of instant gratification and customer satisfaction. As a customer, you want quick response from any brand you are engaging with and social media engagement offers that.
But always bear in mind – what happens on social media remains on social media. Sure you can delete a post or edit it, but many digital savvy viewers can capture an apparent goof-up and soon it might then circulate across digital channels. Always exercise caution in posts & responses.

>> Conversion through cycle of engagement:  Be genuine. Be informative, Be useful.  There are several points in a customer journey online – from browsing to inquiring to downloading to ‘I may/will buy’. Make sure you cover these points in your online interaction with them and endeavour to make your brand & your product thought leaders in their domain.

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