What is social media?
Very simply, social media provides a way for individuals to interact and communicate. The platform for interaction and communication is web-based, rather than over the phone, in person, or with pen and paper. We can communicate through seven basic social media categories: social and professional network sites, microblogging sites, media sharing sites, bookmarking sites, popularity sites, community builders, and blogs and podcasts.
What is social media marketing and why should we be doing it?
Social media marketing utilizes the above outlets, and provides a new way for business owners to connect with current or potential consumers, to stay in contact with these consumers, and stay on the forefront of their consuming minds. It is becoming and increasingly vital tool for businesses get a great feel for their industry locally, nationally, and internationally, to reach more customers and build better relationships with them, to up the branding ante, and to enhance their search engine optimization efforts.
Social media marketing provides businesses with an increasingly huge market reach. In a matter of minutes, businesses can interact with a customer, and customers can interact with other customers. This viral, or snowball effect, is the ultimate word of mouth. Consumers don’t want to hear from business about how great businesses are. They want to hear from other consumers how great – or horrible – a business and their customer service is. Social media provides a platform for consumers to share those experiences, and fast. People trust their friends and their friends’ opinions and experiences. Because of social media, we are increasingly aware of, and in touch with our friends’ experiences. Even if we think we are not paying attention to our friends’ likes and dislikes, we are at least subliminally.
The seven social media categories, and the top websites from each category:
Social and professional networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn:
Businesses and professionals can create profiles, and find and connect with other members and friends, which can translate into potential customers. This is also a great platform for information and media sharing, as you can post links to blogs and other media. A great arena for customers to get to know you personally, since you both have the opportunity to comment and share about posts.
Microblogging such as Twitter and Plunk:
Offers great outlet for short blogs, or one-liners. Think of it as the next generation of headline writing. It is in real time, and all your followers have the opportunity to comment and share.
Media sharing such as YouTube, Flickr, Google:
Perfect if you are interested in sharing video tutorials, product photos, graphics, etc. Other members can follow you and share with others what they like. An effective way to build a reputation as a trusted and knowledgeable source.
Bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Ma.gnolia, StumbleUpon:
Members can bookmark their favorite sites and share with other members or their friends. This is a great way to get your long-term content noticed. It can generate traffic to your site and is great for search engine optimization.
Popularity sites, or social news services such as Digg and Reddit:
These are similar to bookmarking sites, but are meant to provide short term exposure to content that is relevant in the moment. Content is submitted sometimes by the business and sometimes by a third party, and can generally be submitted more than once. Content is voted on by the public at large.
Community Builders such as Yahoo! Answers, Google groups, Wiki’s, and message boards:
These are great because you can give (and receive) advice, participate in meaningful dialog, and become known as a trusted and knowledgeable source.
Blogs and podcasts:
These are also a great way to give and receive advice and become a trusted and knowledgeable source. for the same reasons as community building. Customers can get to know you. No real strict writing style is dictated, so you can demonstrate expertise and build a following while allowing customers to get to know the real you. Blogs are great because they are text based, and require frequent updates which is great for SEO. Blogs can also host podcasts and other media.
There you have it. A super-quick primer on social media marketing. Now go take a look at these sites and get ready to read about them in depth in the next couple of weeks. Get ready to build a solid social media marketing campaign! Feel free to contact me with any questions – I would love to answer them!