Many people today aren’t exactly sure what social media actually is, let alone social media marketing. In a broad sense social media is a website that interacts with its users in a specific way and doesn’t just present information or a product. This ability to interact and share information with others, is the main reason why social media and social media marketing are growing at such a rapid rate.
Social media sites develop a community feel and foster a sense of unity that establishes a basic level of trust with the users, it also allows for people to connect with similar hobbies and interests. These types of connections for social media marketers is a dream come true, it allows them to establish themselves as a trusted resource, build likability, credibility, and eventually a healthy image and a company brand will follow suit.
Some examples of social media that works for companies would be a corporate blog that invited comments or photos of their product being used. A Design Firm may invite happy customers to post photos of beautiful interior work to give a testimonial for everyone to see how happy they are.
Other forms of social media that companies use are found in Facebook, and Twitter, a website that allows people to post what they are doing, small micro blogging of 140 characters or less. Many celebrities take advantage of Twitter to keep their fans posted on what they are doing. Another interesting form of social media marketing is Foursquare a new positional based service, people check in when they visit live brick and mortar establishments, the one who checks in the most becomes the Mayor of that location and gets incentives and goodies. All in all social media marketing is an extremely powerful way to get your company or organization in front of an interested, possibly massive audience.
Bookmarking sites such as Del.icio.us, Stumbleupon and others allow you to recommend various pages or products on your site. This are in turn seen by others and also indexed by the search engines. If your company sells say a specialty type of exercise equipment there is a great chance your bookmarked page will come up as an authority page and thereby send more visitors (and potential buyers) to your website.
Social news is another way to use social media to your advantage. Social news media sites such as Digg, Reddit and Technorati are all marvelous for getting new happenings out before the public at large.
What is The Future Of Social Media And Social Media Marketing?
According to Forrester Research, an independent research company that provides marketing, business and technology advice to business leaders, over the next five years social media marketing will grow at an annual rate of 34% – faster than any other form of online marketing, and double the average growth rate for all online mediums. Even more telling, during that time span business spending on mobile media marketing will increase three-fold, while spending on social media will increase more than four times.
Remember when the Internet first burst upon the scene and everyone proclaimed it as the greatest thing since sliced bread? Well, a lot of companies lost a lot of money trying to figure out how to use it effectively. It took nearly a decade for people to learn how to turn it from a novelty item into a highly effective business tool. Not just in terms of selling products online, but as a powerful communications tool the likes of which we had never seen before.
It took a while to understand that the real power of the Internet was its ability to make information ubiquitous. Once we learned how to use the Internet to put information in the hands of the people who need it any time, anywhere in the world, it revolutionized the way we conduct business. This is the power of what we call inbound advertising, or content creation and management inbound advertising.
Social media is now going through the same learning curve, only it’s happening much faster. Business leaders have figured out that there’s a lot more to social media than the ability to connect with people through Facebook or keep friends updated on our whereabouts via Twitter. We’re discovering how to use the multitude of channels and platforms to change the way we position our products and services in the marketplace and how to build beneficial relationships with prospects, customers, and other key stakeholders. It will eventually deepen the relationships that businesses have with their customers, and keep them accountable and more honest , well hopefully.
What have we learned so far? That social media marketing has tremendous potential in three key areas:
Brand building and monitoring. Brand building used to be a one-way activity. With social media, it has become two-way. Customers are already talking about you and your products and services on social networking sites. Creating “official” social media channels allows you to participate in those conversations and have some control over how your brand is perceived by the market. It also allows you to monitor what the market is saying about your competitors and what they are doing. When you monitor consistently, you can gather valuable competitive intelligence and better understand emerging unmet customer needs.
Finding new customers. Creating a company profile and posting blogs, Internet Billboards, articles, and other information about market trends and issues positions you as an expert in your industry.
Regular updates about your business on your personal social media accounts can spark others to send business your way. Just for instance a simple powerful Tweet, thats a Twitter communication can potentially be Retweeted and easily send you some new followers who then check out your website and finally make a purchase from you. But perhaps the best thing about social media is its ability to target very specific groups of prospects and customers and address their individual interests in a very personal way. People want to feel like they belong to something special. Social media marketing allows you to build loyal followers and create a sense of community around your company and its products and services.
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