Social media has become one of those terms that is used for just about anything, and therefore nothing. Wikipedia defines it as "media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques." But that can be the definition for just about the entire web. In this article we will go over what exactly is social media marketing, and what it tends to branch out into. And if you feel you need to have a more solid understanding of marketing in general, please take a look at our introduction to marketing article.
In its most basic form, social media is one form of online marketing which is just the act of using social networks like Twitter, Facebook and others to interact with people and promote your business or product. This is neither too effective as a marketing tool, nor enough for you as the user to truly take advantage of its full potential. In fact, one of the most common advertising mistakes and marketing errors is to think of social media marketing as simply posting your advertising messages to social networks and thinking that will be enough.
Social media is much broader than simply posting updates on whatever social networks happen to be popular at any given moment. Video is also part of social media. And blogging is also a part of social media. But doesn't stop there. In part, news sites have blurred with blogs, and are also partially considered social media.
That is the million dollar question. While social media marketing can be effective, to make it work for you is not simple. You must go far beyond simply posting updates with your marketing message on social networks in order to achieve any kind of success.
There are a few patterns of using social media for marketing to achieve success. Of course, they are specific to the content that you have, and the type of business you are looking to promote, so as you read this, think about how all this relates to your particular business.
One pattern is to produce a lot of content on your own site (or a blog) and promote it via different means and social networks by posting on the social networks, and adding social sharing and bookmarking buttons on your website. Also, you can try to write guest posts on other big sites in an attempt to get the audiences of those publications to also take a look at your site. This is a long term and somewhat incremental approach as you need to produce quite a bit of content this way. But the good thing is that much of that content may end up ranking in Google search which may end up being a great and long-term sustainable way for you to bring in new clients who then share your content and add to its virality.
Another pattern to using social media marketing is to try to leverage bigger platforms. Here is how that would work. Since when you start, your social media reach is pretty minimal, if you post updates, very few people will see those updates, and therefore the sharing and social spread will be minimal. So you must network with bigger sites and social media influencers who already have a large following, and get them to promote your business. Of course, they would not just randomly promote your business, so you must have a strategy where it makes sense for them to begin marketing your business either because you have great content, or can somehow create something additive to their business.
There are other social media marketing strategies, but the two outlined here tend to be the most common.
The social media ROI (return on investment) has become somewhat of a joke in the last few years, mainly because big companies hire staff that do not use social media marketing effectively, and ultimately lose the company quite a bit of money. But it is not entirely their fault. To market successfully using social media, you have to be amazingly good. It is that hard. So just because it seems that social media advertising is free, it is really not free. You must put lots of thought, a strong effort and lots of time into it, and you must understand what you can potentially get out of it. And you must also understand that you may not get out of it what you initially planned because not everything is up to you. Bigger platforms have to welcome you, Google has to rank you in their search, and ultimately, clients need to respond well to your offering.
Keep in mind that first and foremost, people do not use social networks to discover your business. Instead, they use them to interact with friends, discover interesting content, and simply entertain themselves as a break. So don't be too pushy or in complete sell mode. You must earn people's trust in order for them to give you their time, or they will simply click away. Social media is not made for sales, so you must entice people with something they would be generally interested in, and only hope that a tiny percentage of them will convert to customers since they were simply browsing and entertaining themselves to begin with.
We will be growing the number of guides and tutorials for how to promote your business correctly on different social networks. For now, please take a look at our Twitter marketing, Quora marketing, Facebook marketing and Marketing with GooglePlus guides. And by the way, don't forget about adding the social sharing buttons on your website. They can give you a small boost. The social sharing buttons are not going to give a tremendous amount of virality, but you can expect a 1-2% boost in traffic from those pages if your content on those pages is reasonably good.
Here is a video tutorial for Facebook marketing.
And here is a video tutorial for Twitter marketing.
And here is a video tutoril for Quora marketing.
Blogging was social media marketing even before such a term officially existed. Even before Twitter and Facebook, smart marketers realized that if they put up a site and started adding content to it, they could share that content on various forums. And some of that content could rank in Google for various search terms and bring traffic that way as well. And blogging still works as a social media marketing tool to promote your business.
If social media does not bring you enough clients, take a look at our comprehensive guide to get press for your business.
For using social media as a marketing tool, much technology is typically not needed. But those who are curious, can take a look at an article about social media technology to get a sense of how social networking sites are created, and how the process of making them is different than regular sites.
Article by Alex Genadinik