Marketing has been an important part of business management and advertising for decades now. However, over the last few years, a new form of marketing has become an important piece of the business marketing puzzle. An offset of online marketing, social media marketing is a vital way to gain traffic, engage followers, and convert sales for a business. As an online PR agency, we are often asked to describe what social media marketing is, how it can be optimized (as well as managed), and how it benefits small and large businesses. To help answer these questions and give an in depth peek at what social media is all about, we are happy to present this guide to social media marketing.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Marketing is all about the promotion and selling of a product or service. Thus, it makes sense that social media marketing works in a similar way of promoting a company in an online, socially engaged format. Essentially, social media marketing is the process of gathering attention and site traffic through sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and others. These sites help a company share stories and information across the great expanse of the World Wide Web. There are thousands of social media sites on the Internet, and while it’s not necessary businesses to have a presence on all of them, it is important to be where an organization’s clients are and engage with them frequently. To do this, companies must first know their specific demographic and see where those people are “hanging out” online.
Where is Everyone?
There are literally hundreds of social media sites to be found, and this is why it is important to understand where current customers and potential buyers are in the online world. Businesses just can’t participate on every social media site (it would be just too time consuming,) so it is vital to pick and choose which sites present a company’s brand best, speaks to current as well as future clients, and is user friendly. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of social media sites to choose from, but we have created a list of fifteen of the top social media sites and their user numbers. Not every social media site that is listed below allows for business participation, but these sites can also give insight into how customers may be spending their time and money, which are key demographic and psychographic points in a marketing plan.
Social Media Sites
The Top 15 Social Sites
- Facebook-The long time leader in social media, Facebook reports having 1.06 billion monthly active users, over 50 million pages and a whopping 680 million mobile users.
- Twitter -Twitter has experienced over 500 million total users in its lifetime but currently the site reports 200 million active users.
- Google+ -Google’s answer to Facebook, this social media site called Google + releases having 343 million active users.
- LinkedIn-Mostly for business professionals, LinkedIn currently has over 200 million users.
- Instagram-The online photo phenomenon of Instagram features 100 million users and so far stores over 4 billion photos.
- eBay- Working as a purchasing site, eBay has over 100 million active users currently shopping or selling on the site.
- WordPress – The blogging site of WordPress is home to over 74 million blogs, all which can be shared and connected via other social media sites.
- Reddit- Reddit only claims 43 million users but they report that the site receives 400 million unique visitors and experiences 37 billion page views.
- Groupon- Allowing group rates in an online coupon form; the site of Groupon has 36.9 million users.
- Spotify – The music listening site of Spotify boasts having 33 million active monthly users and 5 million paid subscribers to their online music service.
- Netflix- Netflix reports 30 million users who subscribe to their video streaming services.
- Stumbleupon -This site has 25 million users and reports receiving 1 billion monthly page referrals.
- Pinterest- Pinterest is a quick-rising website comprised of mostly women, that shares and pins photos from over 25 million users.
- Foursquare – This site has over 25 million users, 1 million businesses, 10.4 million monthly users checking in on this site.
- Etsy- A selling site for homemade or vintage items, Etsy boasts 20 million users and over 100 million products on their site.
Each of these social media sites offer good insight into where clients may be and how a business can interact with them as the company continues to build a brand online.
The Importance of Brand Development
Brand development is an important part of business marketing. A strong brand presents a clear and concise identity that speaks to the target demographic of a company. The branding is essentially the face of the business, its values, and the platform of a company’s core. It represents these things to customers. A quality and well thought out logo, name, and brand presence can make or break an organization, making it one of the most important aspects of business creation and management.
To use the example of Coke-a-Cola, they have a solid and classic logo that instantly relates to their customers and displays the values of their business. In social media, their branding is extended to interact with clients and showcase their values, and the importance they place on customer satisfaction. Coke-a-Cola’s branding identity has been developed to appeal to several demographics of people and their branding on social media sites like Facebook, sets them apart as a brand and product that cares as well as adheres to its core values.
Brand development has always been necessary when creating a business, but it has become even more important in the world of social media marketing. Social media marketing works to promote a brand to millions of people but it also works as an ally in building a business’s brand as it interacts with clients in an online and offline format.
How Does Social Media Marketing Build a Brand?
Having an online presence for a corporation has been important for a long time, but with the introduction of social media marketing, it is becoming even more important to build a brand. Building a brand means going beyond just a logo, to create a voice, a style, and an attitude for a company. Social media is intended to build brands because the content that is produced by an organization through social media is seen by millions of people, allowing them to interact and build a relationship with a company.
In a study shared by Social Media Examiner, research reported that those visiting social media sites often visit several times a day and 66% utilize social media to educate themselves about products and services. This means that social media, among several other benefits, is an excellent avenue for building, promoting, and engaging clients in a specific brand. Check out this video entitled “22 Brilliant Social Media Marketing Tips” to start generating some great social media marketing ideas.
Social Media Marketing Tips Video
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing
As we discussed above, social media marketing is a great avenue for building a brand, but this style of marketing also provides several other benefits for businesses. Those benefits can include:
1. Client Connection
Social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all about building a connection with a client. It is through images, thought provoking questions, and consistent online customer service that many businesses have been able to build a connection with their customers and stay at the forefront of a client’s buying processes.
2. The Ability to Address Conflicts or Issues Immediately
In today’s online world, a negative review of a product or organization can be detrimental. However, social media marketing gives companies the advantage of addressing those client concerns or conflicts in a public forum immediately. As a business connects with clients and begins to develop their brand, it is important to show that one review does not represent the entire company, and social media can help display that by offering opportunities to address conflicts or concerns and speak directly with dissatisfied customers.
3. Repeated Brand Exposure
Although social media marketing is quickly becoming the staple marketing technique, many of the marketing adages of the past can still apply. Many marketers live by the standard that a customer will need to be exposed to a product a minimum of six times before they will decide to buy it. Through a brand’s social media network, a client could be exposed to a business and product up to six times in one day. Sale cycles are shortened and businesses can remain in the forefront of a client’s mind throughout their buying processes and decisions.
4. Building of Brand Influence
Creating a strong social media following for an organization can create a snowball effect in engaging new customers and extending the circle of influence a brand can have. The more influence and followers a business has, the more potential customers will follow, therefore building brand recognition and extending the amount of customers a company has repeated contact with.
Social Media Network
5. Become a Member of a Social Community
Online social communities discuss issues, new trends, and what is happening in the world around consumers and industries. As a corporation, it is important to have a finger on the pulse that is important to customers as well as to be a vocal and engaging part of that community. Engaging in ongoing dialog with clients can be extremely valuable and help a company establish further marketing plans.
6. Establishing Expert Authority
Whether a company is in the plumbing or paper industries, they are experts in their field. Engagement on social sites can help establish that expert authority and continue to bring customers back because they accurately perceive that a company is filled with experts about a particular product. To instate that expert authority, many businesses answer questions, share engaging content, and serve their audience thus building a community of loyal fans and brand advocates.
7. Creating Brand Advocates
A brand advocate is a customer who loyally supports a business’s brand and shares their love within their social communities on and offline. By being an expert, addressing concerns, and being a member of their community with good content, a business can build brand advocates who essentially market the brand for them, therefore spreading a company’s circle of influence and online presence.
8. Being Relevant to a Customer’s Mindset
Consumers today are more educated and continually look to discover which companies care about them. Gone are the days when an organization could fake customer service and engagement, now it is required. Many potential clients will search social media to learn about a corporation and by being actively engaged online through social media marketing, many businesses are beginning to see new customers and better sales.
Marketing through social media avenues can open up several doors for an organization, but it is important to remember that social media marketing is still core marketing. Every piece of content, comment or posted picture must have a purpose to fully optimize social media marketing’s benefits.
Social Media Optimization
Working to develop custom strategies for client interaction in an online format is part of a three step process that leads to social media optimization. The end goal is of course to get clients to a business’s website or store and that can be done through strategies that include tailored content, community engagement, and nurturing a strong online brand.
It is vital that an organization evaluate its current social media strategy and online presence. Is a re-brand in order? Should the business engage more on photogenic social sites like Instagram or Pinterest? An evaluation of current status is the keystone to creating a new and improved social media strategy.
The Right Strategy
As suggested above, social media marketing is similar to traditional marketing because it requires strategy and effort. Following an evaluation of current social standings, businesses should look for ways to increase site traffic and utilize the social media platforms that their clients are on.
Social media takes constant development and discussion. Businesses cannot post once and expect a boost in sales or traffic. Implementation of strategies will need to be executed regularly to truly optimize social media marketing and the benefits this marketing technique can bring.
Not every business is comfortable with social media, and as it becomes more of an integral piece of business marketing, many corporations are hiring social media management services to help. These service teams can assist a company in creating valuable strategies and driving traffic through social media marketing. For more information about social media management services and optimization, we encourage organizations to visit our Social Media Marketing page.
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