What is Social Media Marketing?
Social Media Marketing is a way for businesses to interact with target markets over the Internet through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
Social media marketing is used for all existing marketing goals, reaching customers and doing the following:
- Increase referral or sales leads
- Build word of mouth
- Increase sales of products or services
- Provide feedback means
- Developing a reputation as an expert or thought leader
- Drive traffic to your business website or blog
- Developing a new product or service
- Provides people with special events and other business related news.
- Provide customer service
Some of the most popular social networking sites for business are:
- Facebook (networking-over 2 billion users)
- YouTube (over 1 billion users per month)
- Instagram (image sharing-more than 800 million monthly)
- Twitter (message broadcasting-more than 330 million users)
- Whatsapp (messaging, audio and video communication-over 1 billion users)
- LinkedIn (network of business professionals with up to 450 million members)
- Pinterest (collect/share images-more than 155 million active users per month)
- Tumblr (blog/photo sharing)
- Quora (information and knowledge exchange)
- Email Marketing via Social Channels
This does not mean that small businesses try to use all small businesses to promote their products and/or services. Even if your business has money to hire a marketing company or develop an in-house social media team, that’s not a good idea because different segments of your customers use different social media frequently. As with other types of marketing, small businesses need to focus their social media marketing efforts and costs on reaching their potential customers. You don’t have to spend time and money promoting your business on social networks that your customers aren’t using.
- Cost -Compared to other forms of marketing, social media is very cheap. You can create an account for free and post it to your followers for free on all of the above platforms. Followers will share and spread messages with other members of the social media community. There are also a number of paid advertising options available to reach a wider audience within your social media community. Facebook offers comprehensive options for ad targeting, including targeting members within a specific geographic radius.
- Audience Engagement -Social networks enable businesses to engage their target audience and develop interactive relationships with customers.
- Visual -From a business point of view, the main problem with social network marketing is that it is time-consuming. Social media marketing campaigns are not a one-time issue. They must be nurtured over time. Big companies like Dell, Microsoft, and HP are using this type of marketing effectively, but any kind of marketing budget can allocate a large number of people to run and manage social media marketing campaigns with x employees. Not in small businesses.
- Direct advertising on social media does not work you are trying to sell a product or service, as well as a business that uses social networks. However, because blatant advertising on social media can in most cases alienate the intended audience or be kicked out of the specific social community they are trying to infiltrate, businesses must use a more subtle form of promotion for social media. To use social network marketing effectively, your business must be recognized as a member of the social media community and be able to interact with other members.
- Risk -Given the community nature of social media, businesses need to be aware of the risk. Negative postings (true or false) by customers, former employees, or competitors can seriously damage your business reputation. If hackers take control of social network accounts, the consequences can be fatal. Even harmless posts can turn into a public relations disaster. For example, in 2012 McDonalds tried to engage the social media community by posting a tweet under the hashtag “#McDStories”. Customers responded by posting horror stories, such as finding nails in hamburgers or being hospitalized for food poisoning after meals at McDonald’s.
Nonetheless, social media marketing is a type of marketing that many small businesses can benefit from in order to learn more about what their customers think and say about their brands and products.
At the end of the day, the main goal of social media marketing is to build a business customer base and develop and manage the company’s reputation