Modern entrepreneurs are scrambling to get involved with social media marketing—it’s a buzzworthy topic that’s captivated the business world since the explosive popularity of Facebook and Twitter first caught international attention. But before you can take advantage of the huge benefits of social media marketing, you have to understand the basics. Social media marketing, at its core, is the process of building your brand equity and awareness via social media channels, including (but not limited to):
• Social Bookmarking sites (Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious)
• Interactive blogs
Social media marketing isn’t a magical remedy for your marketing woes, nor is it an overblown sensation. It is a real, measurable solution that, if executed properly, will:
• Increase brand awareness
• Give your brand an organic, human feel
• Allow you to tune in to what’s being said about your brand
• Facilitate word-of-mouth marketing
• Give you an immediate medium for customer and potential customer communication
• Increase customer loyalty
• Build consumer trust
Let’s explore each goal in detail.
INCREASE BRAND AWARENESS
When you enter social media channels, your brand will appear in search results across the Web, not just in search engines. Many social media channels, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, feature “group” functionality which allows users to search for topics in which they are interested and opt-in to updates for those topics. Furthermore, social media channels facilitate the process of instantly sharing information with a large number of contacts. If a reader finds your content useful or interesting, they can share it with their contacts quickly and easily, creating organic exposure for your brand.
GIVE YOUR BRAND AN ORGANIC, HUMAN FEEL
Participating in social media channels brings your brand closer to your customers and potential customers. Your social media “voice” defines your brand image and separates it from a distant entity to a hip, trendy, “in-the-know” brand. Think about what Apple did with its famous “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials.
TUNE INTO WHAT’S BEING SAID ABOUT YOUR BRAND
You may not know it, but your customers are saying lots of things about your brand. But do you know what they’re saying? Social media channels like Twitter and Facebook make that sort of “brand buzz” readily available. If you’re not tuned in, you could be missing out on crucial information about your target market.
FACILITATE WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING
There’s no stronger marketing message than an endorsement from a friend. Social media facilitates word-of-mouth marketing by making it quick and easy to tell your friends about your positive experience with a brand. But social media doesn’t just make it easy to tell a single friend; it’s just as easy to tell all your friends what’s on your mind.
USE IT AS A MEDIUM TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS
Twitter and Facebook have become the default customer service media for many companies, and more companies are hopping on the bandwagon each day. By using these channels to communicate with your customers, you project a transparent, trustworthy image which also shows that not only do you listen, but you care.
INCREASE CUSTOMER LOYALTY
One independent study, which appeared in the March 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review found that Facebook pages can increase customer loyalty by 36%. The study also found that customers connected with the brand’s Facebook page had higher emotional attachment and greater psychological loyalty toward the brand.
BUILD CONSUMER TRUST
The transparency inherent in social media builds trust with potential consumers. People want to deal with people, not with corporations, and communicating through social media builds that level of personal trust.