Social Media Marketing – What it is and How to Use it For Your Business
‘Social media’ is a term that has gained prominence and popularity over the past couple of years. But what is it and how can it be used to benefit your business? Media are communication instruments. Traditional media such as newspaper, radio and TV formats are one-way communication formats from the publisher to the reader, listener or viewer. Social relates to society and how it is organized with people interacting and forming communities. Social media are social formats of two-way media communication where the publishers, readers, listeners and viewers are all able to contribute to the conversation and form communities of specific mutual interests.
Social Media was enabled by so-called ‘Web 2.0’ technologies that surfaced circa 2002-5 to facilitate multi-participant communication, information sharing, interoperability, collaboration, communities, and user or consumer generated content (media) on the World Wide Web. It encompasses capabilities such as blogs, online chat, social networks, online communities, wikis, social bookmarks, forums, video sharing, photo sharing, virtual worlds, podcasts, social news, etc.
So it follows that ‘Social Media Marketing’ is the use of social media capabilities for marketing purposes. Not quite – traditional forms of marketing do not directly translate or work in this new environment. In traditional marketing you’re producing materials and campaigns aimed at your customers and prospects. In social media marketing you’re engaged get instagram followers in communication with your customers and prospects. You use social media capabilities in the same ways your customers and prospects do, and you observe the rules set by the community you are communicating with. Those are major differences. Social media marketing can be very powerful and successful if approached and used correctly. Conversely, you can cause yourself a lot of pain if it is approached incorrectly or ignored.
Think about social media marketing as social influence communication via various tools, online communities, social influencers, public relations, customer service, etc. The top 5 tools are Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Here are some of the many ways to use social media marketing for your business:
- Exposure for your business/products/services/solutions – the number one benefit is getting more exposure to more people in more ways.
- Improve your business/products/services/solutions visibility on the Internet – the second major benefit is increased traffic for your website and other web properties.
- Generate more sales leads – the third major benefit is search engine ranking improvement which enables more people to find your business when they search for products/services/solutions like yours.
- Increase customer loyalty by monitoring and participating in conversations about your business/products/services/solutions.
- Gain insight from communities of interest for your business/products/services/solutions by participating in discussions and getting first-hand information about what buyers want.
- Build your brand and authority by using your expertise to educate and assist people in your communities of interest.
Although social media marketing direct costs are very affordable, the time demands are significant and require continuous attention.
If you have any doubts, consider these statistics from several surveys – 73% of active online users read blogs, 57% have joined a social network, 83% watch video clips, 39% subscribe to a RSS feed, and according to Time magazine, social networking sites are more popular than pornography sites. If you’re not doing social media marketing, you’re not using the full potential of the Internet.