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Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing (SMM) seeks to relay a specific marketing message through social media (SM) channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and YouTube. Unlike many offline marketing campaigns, SMM has the advantage of being viral, meaning that one can distribute a marketing message exponentially rather than just linearly. Because SM outlets contain entire communities of subscribers, one well-targeted message can reach thousands of individuals. Furthermore, these subscribers can spread the message to subscribers in other communities via links, posts, e-mails, and comments. The reality of viral marketing through SM outlets is arguably the single biggest reason why SMM is becoming incredibly powerful and popular.

Effective SMM accomplishes five main goals:

1. Identity/Accessibility Establishment
A company's online identity is established via a Facebook profile, Wordpress blog, Twitter page, etc. Within these SM channels, information is provided about the core business and its values, as well as contact information and recent news/posts. Implementing RSS and Twitter feeds, and setting up forums and blogging sites, establishes a company's accessibility to the public.
2. Ambassador Recruitment
SM community members link to the company profile, subscribe to its feeds, and associate themselves with the product brand. Members may even post or comment on behalf of the company, or promote its products. This helps establish a company's credibility and build trust.
3. Marketer Communication
The company regularly generates posts, surveys, contests, and other attention-grabbing content. Newsletter and e-mail subscription services are offered, allowing more direct communication with SM subscribers and potential customers.
4. Subscriber Feedback
Subscribers to the company's web site, blog, SM profile, etc. regularly make comments and submit posts on its content. This feedback may be initiated by surveys, quizzes, and polls. It may also be the result of useful or controversial content placement.
5. Subscriber Offline Engagement
SM community members and subscribers are offered the opportunity to meet with the company offline at a trade-show, social event, etc. Personalized meetings with these individuals greatly reinforce the company's name and product line, putting a human face on the business.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

There are many benefits to be gained from the successful completion of these five SMM goals, including:
Increased Traffic
Viral marketing through SM outlets results in increased traffic to the company's profile, blog, and products pages. Once on the company's web site, viewers are likely to hit other company pages, increasing total session length as well as the number of clicks. Traffic will initially be primary, originating only from the SM outlets to which business-specific content has been posted. Over time, secondary traffic will emerge, due to other web sites and blogs linking to and directing traffic to this content.
Higher Inbound Link Number
A well-planned SMM strategy, containing targeted keywords and linkbait, results in many outside links (backlinks) from trusted domains. This increases web site traffic, which results in even more linking to the content found. A higher number of inbound links translates to higher page rank (PR), and improved search engine results page (SERP) placement. Higher PR and SERP placement allow companies to charge higher rates for outside advertising and/or link placements.
Product Awareness
Companies that actively take part in SM communities, posting comments and announcements, syndicating content, submitting to article directories, etc., are rewarded with greater product awareness and customer engagement. The company becomes ingrained in the collective memory of its subscribers, which helps reduce its generic advertising costs and to focus more on key product areas and sales.
Improved Customer Relations
By participating in community discussions, and addressing customer grievances/concerns, a company's customer relations improve dramatically. Likewise, many product, service, and quality issues are resolved long before they escalate into major problems. Thus, the unexpected benefits of SMM are online reputation monitoring, management, and improvement.
Higher Sales
Subscribers who are aware of a company and its products are more likely to purchase from it. Because these customers trust the company and its reputation, they are also more likely to place bigger product orders. More and bigger product sales result in a better bottom line for the business.

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