First there was MySpace, then there was Facebook and Friendster. Then came the likes of Digg and Delicious. These days, people are on to Twitter. No, these aren’t characters from a children’s show. They’re what the marketing industry calls social media—a growing body of content created by the masses as opposed to mainstream providers (like TV and radio). And in the fast-paced world of online marketing, they’re the next big thing.
What it is
Social media marketing involves generating publicity through social media channels. On Facebook, they’re the groups of people promoting everything from candy to charity. On Digg, they’re the news and articles that people post and vote on. It’s also the thousands of corporate blogs that get updated every day, and the Twitter feeds that fill up their sidebars.
So what makes it different? In social media, you’re a user just like everyone else. It’s the online equivalent of, say, Bill Gates peddling his software on your doorstep. By being right where your audience is, you make a much stronger impact and get more direct results.
What it can do for you
The great thing about social media is that it’s not just a single channel. You can promote yourself through videos, blogs, micro-blogs, forums, petitions, or all of the above. It’s more a question of what you want it to do for you. Marketing Pilgrim offers a list of top goals for social media marketers:
1. Increased traffic
Social media makes up a sizable chunk of everyday Web traffic. With the right techniques, you can have your fair share.
In social media, there’s a higher percentage of relevant page views; that is, the people who end up on your site are actually interested in your business. There’s never been a simpler way to get your ads to reach the right people.
3. Sales tracking and conversion
Because each network has a distinct medium, it’s easy to track where your sales are coming from. And when you can direct your marketing accordingly, you get high conversion for less work.
4. Brand awareness and association
It takes time to build a brand, but with social media, you build a stronger and more lasting association. The average person checks at least one social media network every day. And when you’re there all the time, they can’t help but remember you.