What is Social Media?
According to Wikipedia, Social media is defined as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”
Whew–what does that really mean? Simply put, “Social Media” is any online and/or mobile medium that brings people together in 2-way conversation. This is where Social Media, also known as Web 2.0, differs from a traditional website which is 1-way conversation, static and has little or no opportunity for input from a site visitor.
Bottom line: Social Media is about creating relationships between people, whether that is a business and customer or a couple of old high school chums.
Social Media Sites or Networks include many familiar names such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn; these are the four “biggies” today, but there are hundreds of other sites that are used by millions of people. Facebook alone has over 600,000 million registered users. Other Social Media sites include review sites such as Yelp, blogs, forums, online radio shows, sites for sharing photos or coupons and so much more!
Why is Social Media important to you and your business?
According to Forbes magazine online, Social Media is the future of selling. Well, that have that partially right…it is the future and the future is NOW.
In the era of Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yelp, buyers have as much control over the flow of information as salespeople. Buying, once a one-way interaction between an informed seller and a curious buyer, has become a conversation between equals, and the revolution in buying behavior is still ongoing.
…among the most successful salespeople, over two-thirds believe social media is integral to their sales success.
…many [companies] are actively discouraging the use of social media despite the fact that customers are buying that way. [emphasis mine] Source: Forbes 12/03/2010
Your customers are on Facebook, Twitter and lots of other Social Media platforms–and so are your competitors. Think of Social Media as word-of-mouth advertising or a referral system. Happy customers will talk about your business through these sites and potential customers will search for you there. Your presence on the Social Media landscape lends you credibility and gives the potential customer the sense that there are REAL PEOPLE behind the business name.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social Media Marketing occurs when a business uses Social Media as a part of their marketing or advertising methods.
This includes some basic elements like a Facebook Fan Page, a presence on Twitter, videos on YouTube. With Social Media Marketing you build your brand, establish an online presence that is consistent with your business style and goals.
Rather than spending your advertising budget on methods that no longer work (when was the last time you used a phone book?) you can funnel a portion of that budget into Social Media Marketing that will actually attract new customers and clients to your business.
Who is Using Social Media Marketing?
Businesses of all sizes are using Social Media Marketing (SMM.)
In 2011, Pepsi decided to not advertise in the Super Bowl, instead they put those dollars into their SMM!
Ads in newspapers, magazines and on television are increasingly including the Facebook and Twitter icons, encouraging consumers to “Like” a fanpage or “Follow” their tweetstream.
Local businesses of all sizes are using SMM to reach out to their potential customers in the community, to broaden their reach than they could with traditional methods. They recognize that the response rate and ROI on SMM is greater than advertising through billboards, the phone directory or newspapers.
Isn’t All This too Personal and a Waste of My Time?
Social Media is of course personal in nature to a certain extent. Think of Social Media like an old fashioned Ice Cream Social…you might meet potential clients there, but you engage in conversation first and foremost.
Done correctly, social media builds positive relationships, allowing your future customer to get to know, like and trust you. And we all know that when they need to make a purchase people are more apt to buy from people they know, like and trust.
Social Media is a way to network on a very broad scale–but you are always in charge. You decide what information you want to disclose and you should always use SMM in a way that is consistent with your business image and brand.
When engaging in SMM distinguish between personal and private. There are many private things that you will not want to disclose in Social Media (when and where you are going on vacation for example) but you do want to let your future customers know you and the heart of your business. People want to connect with other people.