What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is the art of increasing brand exposure by garnering social interest through the sharing of content within the sphere of social media networks. The aspect of being able to share content with friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, and interested parties often leads to exponential distribution of the content downstream. If the content is determined to be communally compelling, the social sharing can experience viral distribution and lead to massive amounts of traffic and inbound links for the content creator.
Think of social media marketing as a hyper-scaled version of word-of-mouth marketing. It begins with content that is shared with immediate contacts. Then, each of the contacts who were exposed to the content have the opportunity to share it with their immediate contacts. Ultimately, the cycle can perpetuate social media reach with each occurrence of a share opening up the door to hundreds if not thousands of new sharing opportunities.
Social Media Optimization (SMO)
The process of social media marketing is the focus on the optimization and accentuation of promotion for social assets including but not limited to profiles and messaging. Harnessing the dynamic power of social media begins with social media optimization. Each social media network maintains its own unique interface with varying profile configuration requirements and options. In a similar fashion to search engine optimization, social media optimization considers an increasing and evolving number of on page and off page factors. These SMO factors determine the visibility of a social asset in search engine results, the reach of a social asset within a specific social network, and the likelihood of sharing of the social asset.
As mentioned, there are significant variations to social media network configurations but, some common social media optimization factors of influence are as follows:
- User Name
- Contact Information
- Website Address
- Custom URL
- Links to Other Social Assets
- About You Information
Paid Social Media Marketing
As is the case with search engine marketing, in social media marketing, there are a variety of organic as well as paid social media marketing solutions. In similar fashion to paid search, paid social media marketing can include cost-per-click and other pay for performance ads that display within a social network. In the social sphere, there are a host of supplementary paid media options including social promotions, celebrity endorsements, coupons, and other forms of sponsored content sharing. Each social platform offers its own demographic data and social analytics that can help to isolate a highly targeted market segment. If you know your audience and you understand their personas, the next step is to determine the most appropriate social platforms for engaging them.
What are the primary social media marketing networks?
There are hundreds if not thousands of social media marketing networks. Yet, most of the traffic and social sharing occurs on a few key social networks. Below is a broad overview of each of the key social networks:
Twitter – Micro-blogging social network with over 500 million registered users and over 150 million active users. Posts are limited to 140 characters or less. Highlights include the use of #Hashtags for information categorization, @usernames for identification and mentions, retweets, and shortened URL’s to access full content pages.
Facebook – The most active and personal social network boasting over 950 million registered users and over 550 million active users. While there are no limits to the size of posts, descriptions will display approximately 150 characters. Highlights include Likes, Comments, Pages, and Groups.
Google+ – Underestimated, underutilized, and increasingly powerful player in the social sphere and beyond. Over 500 million registered users and over 235 million active users. Highlights include Communities, Hangouts, +1’s, Circles, Authorship, and significant impact on search results.
Linkedin – A pure play professional networking site with over 150 million registered users. Highlights include Groups, Following, Companies, and Job Searches.
Pinterest – At a rate of nearly 80% this social networking property is female dominant. Boasts over 12 million users and increasing at a rapid pace. Highlights include Boards, Pins & Repins, Followers, and Likes.
YouTube – The preeminent video sharing property with over 800 million monthly users. Highlights include Subscriptions, Channels, and Likes.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is in its infancy but, there is no doubting the tremendous benefits to businesses and consumers alike. The early return on investment in social media marketing and the knowledge gained from social analytics are nothing short of spectacular. Businesses are able to expand the scope and range of their influential messaging to targeted end users. Subsequently, by sharing information with their own networks, interested parties are able to serve as brand advocates for companies with products and services they enjoy. The days of one way messaging are over. The result is a more educated consumer who is directly connected to a company that interests them and companies have the opportunity to earn and maintain the respect of their consumer base in a more ongoing and direct fashion. When used properly, social media marketing is a huge win for all parties.