I speak with business owners and individuals every day about Social Media Marketing (SMM) – what it is, what it isn’t, why to do it and how to measure the returns.What follows is my five minute response.
The best definition I’ve heard for SMM is that is mimics face to face networking in a virtual space.It’s word of mouth marketing taken online.It’s part personality and part opinion. To be successful, it must provide value to the target audience.
Social Media Marketing is not like traditional advertising.You cannot push a marketing message out to the masses and expect it to be well received.In many cases, this practice is considered spamming and will be immediately discarded.Those who practice these techniques will find themselves on the wrong end of criticism and lose the ability to garner respect and a following.Advertisers and marketers must first engage their prospect at a personalized level.This doesn’t necessarily mean that the conversation should be about your personal life but rather that you must first establish a relationship built on trust and respect.
There is no clear metric or industry standard for measuring the return on investment from a social media campaign.You must first define the return you seek.Consider these typical measures – Brand Awareness, Conversation, and Sales as a guide.Website analytics will reveal significant details about your reach and reaction.Search engine “Page Rank” is also affected and can be measured quantitatively.
Why should you consider Social Media as a marketing avenue?The most common answer to this is cost.Social Media Marketing has a very low cost of entry.For a small investment in a blog platform and the time to write a few posts, marketers can enter the space.Many who do begin these steps do not follow through and are disappointed by the results.Those who invest more into listening and learning about their prospects needs, and follow through with a longer term strategy, will see rewards in many ways.
Social Media Marketing, when done correctly, provides a new avenue for businesses to create a relationship with their customers.Successful marketers will engage these customers, understand their needs, and extend value.They will be rewarded when these consumers become advocates and recommenders, extending the reach and the perceived quality and value of their products and services.
Social Media is constantly changing.Online properties rise and fall in popularity overnight.Don’t get wrapped up in these tools.Instead realize that 50% of the activity that occurs on social properties is on websites you’ve never heard of.These niche properties have a smaller, more select user demographic.Finding the community that matches your target market and business objectives will provide far greater value than a mass market property like Facebook or Myspace.