The social network explosion has put this question on many marketers minds just what is social media marketing and how can I use it to my benefit?
Simply put social media marketing is the continued communication by companies with customers and prospects by another media. As the door-to-door salesman gave way to the catalog, and the catalog gave way to the Internet, social media provides the next level of valuable interaction. This venue is more real, more like the personal shopping experience and relationships of the early 20th century, but with dramatically larger audiences, unencumbered by the time of day or geography.
Three steps are critical in evaluating social media applications. First, dont look at all the products, services, communities, or applications available without understanding what challenges you need to apply these tools to today. Different tools meet different needs; branding, feedback, pushing offers, driving web traffic, viral campaigns, ect. Make sure that the social media has the right demographics for your effort. Professional networks will have different expectations and reactions than the more casual and social sites when they get your message. Applying the right service to your business challenges will give you the best opportunity to generate a positive ROI or positive opinion about the effort.
Heres a quick summary of many of a few prominent names and their key applications:
LinkedIn A Business to Business community made up of professionals from all over the world in a wide variety of industries, useful in expanding your network, job hunting or job placement, and gaining industry knowledge from peer groups.
Facebook Provides a younger audience with more social interests in mind, but plenty of opportunities to advertise, add groups or coordinate events. The exposure to your brand can be extensive, Facebookers are passionate and somewhat tech savvy and open minded.
Technorati Maintains a feel for the pulse of blogs and bloggers, a database of searchable and organized content. Offers the ability to find and track favorite blogs and search keywords within blog commentary. Considerably more technical community, as evidenced by its name.
Del.icio.us Lets you store your bookmarks on-line so you can reach them at any computer and share your bookmarks so others can benefit from common interests and mutual respect. Useful if you are interacting with people in your network or common industries.
StumbleUpon Your friends and fellow websurfers improve the search capability by moving the highest rated sites to the top of your search. Requires a download of an add-on for rating sites and a stumble!. Works with no typing or links, you simply wander sites of interest. Having your site rated highly can be a tremendous asset.
Digg Content rating site that will enhance or debilitate your traffic. If your content is dugg you site picks up steam, but the opposite it also true. Digg users act as lobbyists for the latest and greatest content on a variety of subjects.
Twitter Publishes 140 character sound bites for your followers to view and comment on. Allows public and private conversations, with short commentary, and can be easily integrated into webpages and other social media sites. More professional commentary than Facebook with an opportunity to spread your message while learning from industry experts you follow.
With each of these services users must continue to integrate. Cross channel marketing means that your existing and established direct, email and web communication needs to blend with the social media. First make sure that your established media blends on its own before layering on the social media input. A successful marketing database must be established to make performance measurement possible. Because social media is going to be more challenging to read and gauge as successful in the first place, its essential to remove any hurdles in advance.
Finally, be flexible in how you will manage your foray into social media. Be prepared to fail and accept the premise that everything isnt going to work out the first time around. Established marketing concepts still dominate, there is plenty of art and science in the success of any program.
Bringing together the complexities of 21st Century business isnt easy. The bar has been raised, consumers have less patience, demand more, and still want to keep their privacy and buy at their own convenience. The gauntlet has been thrown down; the savvy marketer will pick it up and answer with vigor.
Social Marketing Photo
By geralt from Pixabay