The biggest single myth surrounding social media is that it is a replacement in some form for other advertising or marketing channels. Social media destroys traditional linear marketing communications models. At heart, social media is an engagement point that can be started by customer, company, competitor, or onlooker. Anyone.
Online & social media is a two-fold communications addition:
1. An exploratory touchpoint prior to sales
2. A follow-up, referral and word-of-mouth to prospective customers and to enhance repeat purchases
As this chart demonstrates, social media is a new touchpoint. One of research initiated by prospects. It is a new step in the purchase cycle, not replacing any traditional element.
Zealotry actions (referral, reviews and other engagements) are extremely valuable, but they work best as authentic elements within this new stage of exploration.