It might not be an obvious comparison to make, but the internet of today is very much like the Silk Road trade of a thousand years ago. The international trading opportunities of our ancestors may not quite match up to the globalization that has been achieved by the internet, but for many local communities of yesteryear, witnessing the influx of products from unknown corner of different continents probably held the same sense of wonderment as being able to speak to someone in real time did when the telephone was first invented.
The Silk Road was truly to start of a globalized trading endeavour, meshing influence from different cultures through spices and textiles and dried fruits and meats. This was further expanded with the human stories that accompanied the cargos.
Today, the internet has caused an explosion of trading opportunities which no one would ever have thought even existed in the past. Through the likes of Amazon, Ali Baba, Facebook and Instagram, hundreds of thousands of small time drop shippers are trading every single day with potential customers from every possible country under the sun. With a variety of product ranges, from men’s bracelets and fast fashion to accessories for your car, no product is too obscure to be a success if the right kind of audience is identified.
Selecting the right target audience
Social media and the internet have enabled marketeers to narrow down potential audiences to the most detailed of descriptions. This goes beyond simply gender, age and location. Depending on their browsing history, from the books and publications they read, to the sports they play, to the music they listen to and the groups they join, through social media you can create your absolutely ideal customer profile and create advertising campaigns that speak to that very person. The more congruent your messaging, the more successful your campaign will be.
Getting your messaging right
One of the key elements is to get that messaging right – and this is probably one of the most challenging aspects of marketing in social media, as that success could hang on a simple word.
Tone of voice is crucial. The tone of voice you use with teenage girls is completely different to the tone of voice you would use with 50 something men. If you are not speaking the same language, your potential buyers will simply not listen.
Split testing is a crucial strategy in your social media marketing campaign. This allows you to test different types and styles of advertising to pinpoint the most accurate and successful of campaigns, measuring them according to traffic, conversions, click through rates and actual sales.
Once you have got the messaging right, the return on spend with social media can blow any other advertising costs out of the water. With more traditional channels there is always a degree of dilution. Through social media you can laser focus your budget to optimise its effectiveness.
The accessibility of social media advertising opens up so many opportunities for a much wider demographic of entrepreneurs. The cost of advertising is comparably low compared to traditional print publications and other media outlets, and yet the reach and targeting abilities are infinitely more focused. A basic advertising budget of £5 to £10 a day is often more than enough to create the awareness and momentum that can lead to a significant increase in sales.
The future is an open book – in the last 20 years social media has evolved massively, and through it many have created wealth and income which they would only have dreamed of in the past. Who knows where the future of social media will take us.