What is Social Media Marketing?
‘Social media marketing’ is a form of marketing that utilises online communities.
The most well-known and heavily used social media platforms are ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’. These may also be referred to as ‘social networking sites’.
However, anywhere in which an online community can form can be considered ‘social media’ and can be utilised in ‘social media marketing’.
This can include the communities formed around blogs or within forums, in addition to YouTube, bookmarking sites and more niche social media sites such as LinkedIn, Flixster or Flickr.
What does social media marketing involve?
A social media marketing campaign could be as simple as launching a company blog and promoting new posts using Twitter and bookmarking sites.
On the other hand it could incorporate the above, along with a regularly updated company Facebook page, a YouTube ‘channel’, a photo stream on Flickr and a heavy presence on related forums.
Social media marketing is based around communication and engagement. It is a PR tool as well as a marketing tool and it is used to build brands and relationships with customers.
Social media marketing places the emphasis on the consumer. Traditional marketing is, in many cases, very one sided. It focuses primarily on advertising the brand and increasing sales. Little emphasis is placed upon the needs and concerns of the consumer.
Social media marketing is all about that missing ‘relationship’. It allows companies to communicate on a one-to-one level with their customers.
Does social media marketing work?
If handled correctly – yes. It works by building customer trust and loyalty.
But will this actually increase my profits?
Of course – the more trust in your company and the more loyal a consumer feels towards you, the more chance that they will choose your company over your competitors in the future.
In addition, your loyal following are highly likely to tell others about how great you are; thus increasing your following and your profits even further!
What do you mean by ‘handling it correctly’?
Not every company inherently ‘gets’ social media.
One of the most common mistakes is to use it as an ‘advertising tool’ to promote their products and service, whilst forgetting about the ‘communication’ aspect.
First of all, when using social media you must engage with your following. This means sharing things of interest; an article, a video, a poll or even a joke.
This shows the company’s ‘human’ side. Yet it can even allow you to find out more about your customers. For instance, an ice cream company about to launch a new product could run a poll in which they ask which flavour of ice cream people would prefer to see on the shelves.
Second of all, you must understand that customers will sometimes use your social media channels to complain, or they might share their dissatisfaction in a forum or over a blog. These customers must not be ignored.
Think of social media as another ‘customer service line’. The reality is; even if you don’t want to use social media for these means, there’s not much you can do about it. Your customers will from time-to-time post a negative message on your Facebook wall or Tweet a complaint to you.
Even if you’re not active in social media yourself, people are probably still talking about you.
What matters is how this is handled. In fact, if handled correctly, a negative comment can actually be turned around and used to enhance your business.
The first rule is to deal with it quickly. Any company seen to be ignoring customer complaints will be reflected on badly.
In your response; acknowledge what has gone wrong, apologise for it and provide a solution. Ideally this should be done publically, so that others can see the issue is being dealt with. If it must be handled privately, ensure to update publically and state that the person has been contacted through another means.
The second rule is to appear ‘human’. Never, ever use the same response for each complaint. Customers will see straight through this and they won’t be impressed.
Tailor-make each response. This shows that the company does have a human side and is genuinely taking the complaints on board.
So am I not able to ‘advertise’ using social media?
Of course you can; just don’t overdo it. Tell your customers about a sale or a new product, or link to a detailed article on said new product.
In fact, people love offers, so make sure to throw a few of those in there too.
However, ‘advertising’ must not dominate your social media campaign. It must be outweighed by interaction with your customers.
Which social media networks should I use?
As stated; the primary social networks are Facebook and Twitter. Most companies choose to use these as a starting point.
Facebook has the largest reach of all social networks currently in existence. This means it is highly likely that whoever your target market is; a large proportion of them will use Facebook.
Twitter boasts just over a quarter of the number of Facebook users yet most businesses still find it to be a very valuable tool.
Outside of these two heavyweights, consider your target market and investigate related social networks.
For instance; ‘LinkedIn’ is great for b2b firms, ‘Care2’ is fantastic for ethical or green living firms and if your target market includes mothers, you might want to look up ‘netmums’.
Do I have to do social media marketing?
Not necessarily. Social media marketing isn’t for everyone. If your target market isn’t internet savvy then put simply; social media is unlikely to have a great impact.
However, consider the fact that the world is moving online. Increasing numbers of us are turning to the internet for an increasing number of reasons, thus the larger your internet presence; the better. If you don’t jump on the social media bandwagon today, you might find yourself forced to in the future.
What’s more, remember that even if you’re not talking to your customers online, they might still be talking about you. If someone is saying something negative about you or your company, you should be there to respond and rectify it.
More information on social media marketing
If you have any further questions or would like to talk to Boom about how we can help boost your social media presence, feel free to give us a call on 0845 474 0974.
Alternatively, take a look at the other services we offer as an online marketing company.