A marketing communications approach for the digital era: Managerial guidelines for social media integration
Although social media has become a source of interaction between consumers and their favorite brands, surprisingly little academic research has sought to understand how social media is situated within a firm's existing marketing communications strategy. In the present research, the authors conducted case studies with both managers and agency personnel responsible for making social media decisions in order to understand how managers incorporate social media into an existing marketing communications strategy. Seven in-depth interviews were conducted with these managers to understand their approach to social media, the challenges they face, and the solutions they have implemented. Findings suggest that managers categorize social platforms into four categories: relationship management, news gathering, creativity, and entertainment. Though social platforms differ in purpose, a cohesive brand personality is created across each platform by following the four C's of integration: consistency, customization, commitment, and caution. Findings offer insights into how brand managers position social media within the communications strategy and utilize different social media platforms to understand and address individual customer needs. The authors also suggest a number of tools to guide implementation and management of social media communications across platforms.