Two-Way Communication: The Role of Social Media in Online Marketing

Its difficult to imagine the world of modern marketing without social media. Suffice to say that without a prominent online presence, companies can and will go unnoticed. Infact, more than 50% of consumers begin a search for a new business or service online. So businesses who are not online and not interacting with their customers online, are missing a huge opportunity. (footnote 1).

Information out Fast!

Never before has it been so easy get information out to your audience – and never before has it been possible to do it so quickly and inexpensively. Social Media makes it possible to give your customers information at blink-of-an-eye speeds. This information doesn’t necessarily have to be new products or new ideas but, as Raj Agnihotri points out in his post, “this can mean offering suggestions and solutions on a regular basis, or it might mean conducting live Q&A sessions on Facebook with customers.” He further points out that this type of interactivity “is a signal that the [organization] really cares about the buyer’s bottom-line goals.”

Athelic Company, MusclePharm, has mastered this in a great way. MusclePharm has succeeded in creating an online community on their Facebook page. They post regular fitness regimes and provide their followers regular instruction on certain exercises. This has created forum for fans to come and discuss the things they liked, didn’t like, or need help with – and of course gives MusclePharm the perfect forum to advertise their products. And so, when shopping for supplements, which brand will the audience go with? The one they recognize as the company who actually seems to care about their success, of course!

Instant Feedback

The other advantage of being able to disseminate information quickly is instant feedback. The online community can tell you almost instantaneously what they think about what you’re doing or what they’ve experienced.

“Conventional marketing wisdom long held that a dissatisfied customer tells ten people. But…in the new age of social media, he or she has the tools to tell ten million.” says Paul Gillin, author of The New Influencers. If customers can tell that many people about a bad experience that quickly, it is vital to solve their concerns quickly, efficiently, and perhaps publicly.

This means showing the customer and your audience that you are listening – when customers give feedback, it is important for them and others to see that somebody is listening and cares. It is so easy to respond directly to the feedback (positive and negative) and makes the customer feel valued. They may not tell ten million people about the issue was resolved, but certainly many many more people will see how well the concern was handled.

Engaged Audience

Social media is a simple way to engage your audience, and in turn build loyalty and share value. When customers are engaged with a brand or company, their loyalty for the brand increases. Car manufacturer, Nissan, recognizes this and has taken to this idea in their next marketing initiative. Over the Summer of 2012, brand managers had been asking fans on Facebook, Pinterest, and other Social Media outlets about their suggestions for future product planning.

Says Erich Marx, Nissan’s director of Interactive and Social Media Marketing, “We want to take our social media engagement to the next level – We have all these people following us who are obviously interested in what we’re doing and where we’re going. The next level in that relationship will be to get their input on where we should go.”


There is no doubt that social media plays an important role in online marketing. Social media isn’t just limited to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Social Media is every single medium that an audience uses to be social. That is, blogs, SMS, photography, anything – being creative about expressing your vision and about getting your audience to share in the experience are what make your social media strategy effective. Anybody can communicate one-way, but two-way communication is the advantage that social media gives to online marketing.