The emergence of social media, also known as consumer-generated media has left a significant imprint on integrated marketing communications (IMC). This form of media includes a wide range of new online information sources (consumer service rating forums, consumer-to-consumer e-mails, Internet discussion boards, etc.) that often used for the purpose of promotion. Therefore, consumer-generated media has become a hybrid component of the promotional mix in influencing almost all aspects of consumer behaviour such as information acquisition, purchase behaviour and post-purchase evaluation. As a result, many companies have incorporated social media into their promotional activities and IMC strategies.
More and more companies resort to consumer-generated media, as a powerful marketing tool in modern marketplace. Social media enables companies to address to their customers. For instance, Facebook and MySpace groups can be used as platforms for negotiations. According to statistics, social media marketing campaigns have surpassed traditional marketing methods. Furthermore, social media use has led to increase in sales.
Consumers believe that word-of-mouth communication is more reliable source of information in comparison to corporate-sponsored communication. In other words, customers share their own positive or negative experience by virtue of social media. Magnitude of such promotion allows getting the message across to thousands of people overnight. On the one side, customers’ interaction restricts the company’s impact on potential clients. In some cases, this state of things is not a favourable situation to entrepreneurs. On the other hand, social media reduces marketing costs.
It also diminished the usefulness of the traditional marketing activities. Companies must accept the fact that consumers turned away from the traditional advertising. They began to rely on information that is disseminated via social media forums by other customers. In order to engage clients, corporations provide networking platforms, use blogs, arrange contests, and offer some bonuses through social media. Therefore, consumer-generated media is regarded as traditional marketing tool in the 21st century.