Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites.
Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. A corporate message spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it appears to come from a trusted, third-party source, as opposed to the brand or company itself. Hence, this form of marketing is driven by word-of-mouth, meaning it results in earned media rather than paid media.
Social media has become a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with internet access. Increased communication for organizations fosters brand awareness and often, improved customer service. Additionally, social media serves as a relatively inexpensive platform for organizations to implement marketing campaigns.
Social networking websites and blogs
Social networking websites allow individuals to interact with one another and build relationships. When products or companies join those sites, people can interact with the product or company. That interaction feels personal to users because of their previous experiences with social networking site interactions.
Social networking sites and blogs allow individual followers to “retweet” or “repost” comments made by the product being promoted. By repeating the message, all of the users connections are able to see the message, therefore reaching more people. Social networking sites act as word of mouth. Because the information about the product is being put out there and is getting repeated, more traffic is brought to the product/company.
Through social networking sites, products/companies can have conversations and interactions with individual followers. This personal interaction can instill a feeling of loyalty into followers and potential customers. Also, by choosing whom to follow on these sites, products can reach a very narrow target audience.
Social networking sites also include a vast amount of information about what products and services prospective clients might be interested in. Through the use of new Semantic Analysis technologies, marketers can detect buying signals, such as content shared by people and questions posted online. Understanding of buying signals can help sales people target relevant prospects and marketers run micro-targeted campaigns.
Mobile phone usage has also become beneficial for social media marketing. Today, many cell phones have social networking capabilities: individuals are notified of any happenings on social networking sites through their cell phones, in real-time. This constant connection to social networking sites means products and companies can constantly remind and update followers about their capabilities, uses, importance, etc. Because cell phones are connected to social networking sites, advertisements are always in sight. Also many companies are now putting QR codes along with products for individuals to access the company website or online services with their smart-phones.
Twitter allows companies to promote their products on an individual level. The use of a product can be explained in short messages that followers are more likely to read. These messages appear on followers’ home pages. Messages can link to the product’s website, Facebook profile, photos, videos, etc. This link provides followers the opportunity to spend more time interacting with the product online. This interaction can create a loyal connection between product and individual and can also lead to larger advertising opportunities. Twitter promotes a product in real-time and brings customers in.
Facebook profiles are far more detailed than Twitter accounts. They allow a product to provide videos, photos, and longer descriptions. Videos can show when a product can be used as well as how to use it. These also can include testimonials as other followers can comment on the product pages for others to see. Facebook can link back to the product’s Twitter page as well as send out event reminders. Facebook promotes a product in real-time and brings customers in.
As marketers see more value in social media marketing, advertisers continue to increase sequential ad spend in social by 25%. Strategies to extend the reach with Sponsored Stories and acquire new fans with Facebook ads contribute to an uptick in spending across the site. The study attributes 84% of "engagement" or clicks to Likes that link back to Facebook advertising. Today, brands increase fan counts on average of 9% monthly, increasing their fan base by two-times the amount annually.
Foursquare is a location based social networking website, where users can check into locations via their smartphones. Foursquare allows businesses to create a page or create a new/claim an existing venue. A good marketing strategy for businesses to increase footfall or retain loyal customers includes offering incentives such as discounts or free food/beverages for people checking into their location or special privileges for the mayor of that location.
Google+, in addition to providing the profiles and features of Facebook, is also able to integrate with the Google search engine. Other Google products are also integrated, such as Google Adwords and Google Maps. With the development of Google Personalized Searchand other location-based search services, Google+ allows for targeted advertising methods, navigation services, and other forms of location-based marketing and promotion
Everyday there are more reasons for companies to use blogging platforms for their social media repertoire. Platforms like LinkedIncreates an environment for companies and clients to connect online. Companies that recognize the need for information, originality, and accessibility employ blogs to make their products popular and unique, and ultimately reach out to consumers who are privy to social media.
Blogs allow a product or company to provide longer descriptions of products or services. The longer description can include reasoning and uses. It can also include testimonials and can link to and from Facebook, Twitter and many social network and blog pages. Blogs can be updated frequently and are promotional techniques for keeping customers. Other promotional uses are acquiring followers and subscribers and direct them to your social network pages.
In a similar fashion, online communities benefit businesses because the online communities enable the businesses to reach the clients of other businesses using the platform. These online environments can be accessed by virtually anyone; therefore consumers are invited to be a part of the creative process. To allow firms to measure their standing in the corporate world, Glassdoor is a site where employees can place evaluations of their companies.
Some businesses opt out of integrating social media platforms into their traditional marketing regimen because their employees dislike such isolated online environments. There are also specific corporate standards that apply when interacting online. Other corporations fear that the general public have too much power over how their marketing is perceived, due to the accessibility of Internet-retrieved information. To ensure having the advantage in a business-consumer relationship, businesses have to be aware of four key assets that consumers maintain: information, involvement, community, and control.
Instagram is a free photo-sharing program and social network that was launched in October 2010. The service enables users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it with other Instagram users they are connected to on the social network as well as on a variety of social networking services. As of September 2012, Instagram had 100 million registered users.
LinkedIn, a professional business-related networking site, allows companies to create professional profiles for themselves as well as their business to network and meet others. Through the use of widgets, members can promote their various social networking activities, such as Twitter stream or blog entries of their product pages, onto their LinkedIn profile page. LinkedIn provides its members the opportunity to generate sales leads and business partners. Members can use “Company Pages” similar to Facebook pages to create an area that will allow business owners to promote their products or services and be able to interact with their customers.
Yelp consists of a comprehensive online index of business profiles. Businesses are searchable by location, similar to Yellow Pages. The website is operational in seven different countries, including the United States and Canada. Business account holders are allowed to create, share, and edit business profiles. They may post information such as the business location, contact information, pictures, and service information. The website further allows individuals to write, post reviews about businesses and rate them on a five-point scale. Messaging and talk features are further made available for general members of the website, serving to guide thoughts and opinions.
YouTube is another popular avenue; advertisements are done in a way to suit the target audience. The type of language used in the commercials and the ideas used to promote the product reflect the audience's style and taste.
Also, the ads on this platform are usually in sync with the content of the video requested, this is another advantage YouTube brings for advertisers. Certain ads are presented with certain videos since the content is relevant. Promotional opportunities such as sponsoring a video is also possible on YouTube, “for example, a user who searches for a YouTube video on dog training may be presented with a sponsored video from a dog toy company in results along with other videos.”Youtube also enable publishers to earn money through Youtube Partner Program.