What is social media marketing? I know that sounds like an elementary question, but it really does deserve some discussion. There are several dimensions to a great social media marketing strategy as well as its intertwined relationship to other channel strategies like content, search, email and mobile.
Let’s go back to the definition of marketing. Marketing is the action or business of researching, planning, executing, promoting and selling products or services. Social media is a communication medium that enables users to create content, share content or participate in social networking. Social media as a medium is very different from traditional media for two reasons. First, the activity is largely public and accessible to marketers for research. Second, the medium allows for bi-directional communication – both direct and indirect.
What is Social Media Marketing
A strong social media marketing strategy must incorporate both the distinct features of social media as well as leverage the methods by which a brand can be monitored and promoted. That means that a having a strategy to push 2 tweets a day isn’t a fully encompassing social media strategy. A complete strategy incorporates tools and methodologies to research your audience, to monitor and react to the audience, to preserve and grow your personal or brand reputation, to publish content that provides value to your social network, and incorporates a promotion strategy that drives business results. That promotion strategy may even incorporate social media advertising.
Business results don’t always have to be the actual purchase, but they can be building awareness, trust, and authority. In fact, social media isn’t often found to drive direct purchases unless it’s by way of a discount or promotion. Social media is more often used to discover by word of mouth, a source of discussion for research, and a source to connect – via people – to a company. Because it’s bi-directional, it’s quite unique from other marketing channels.
7 Ways Social Media Marketing Helps Businesses
- Showcase your brand – word of mouth is incredibly effective because it’s highly relevant. People in a specific industry, as an example, often congregate in social media channels and groups. If one person shares your brand, product or service, it can be seen and shared by a highly-engaged audience.
- Develop a loyal community – if you have an effective social strategy of providing value to your audience – either by direct assistance, curated content, or other news, tips and tricks, your community will grow to appreciate and trust you. Trust and authority are important elements of any purchase decision.
- Improve customer service – when your customer calls you for help, it’s a 1:1 conversation. But when a customer reaches out on social media, your audiences get to see how you react and respond their needs. Great customer service can be echoed through every corner of the globe… and so can customer service disaster.
- Increase digital exposure – why product content without a strategy to share and promote it? Developing content doesn’t mean if you build it, they will come. They won’t. So building a great social network where the community become brand advocates is incredibly powerful.
- Boost traffic and SEO – While the search engines continue to exclude links, fans and followers as a direct factor in search engine ranking, there’s no doubt that a strong social media strategy will drive great search engine results.
- Expand sales and reach new audience – it’s proven that sales people who incorporate a social media strategy outsell those who do not. As well, your sales people understand how to deal with negative feedback in the sales process because they actually speak to people every day. Your marketing department often doesn’t. Putting your sales representatives out on social to build a presence is an awesome means of expanding your reach.
- Cut marketing costs – while it requires momentum, trending growth on social media for follows, shares, and clicks will ultimately drive down costs while increasing demand. There are incredible stories of companies going from broke to expanding after building a unique social media presence. That requires a strategy that can be counter to many corporate cultures. There are also a lot of companies that are terrible at social media and are simply wasting their time.
Today's digitally empowered customers create a challenge for organizations to sell, market and service them effectively. Expectations are higher than ever before, and customers openly share both positive and negative experiences with just a few clicks on review websites, app ratings and social media.