Social media marketing is a recent addition to organizations’ integrated marketing communications plans. Integrated marketing communications is a practice organizations follow to connect with their target markets. Integrated marketing communications coordinates promotional elements: advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity, direct marketing and sales promotion. Increasingly, viral marketing campaigns are also grouped into integrated marketing communications. In the traditional marketing communications model, the content, frequency, timing, and medium of communications by the organization is in collaboration with an external agent, i.e. advertising agencies, marketing research firms and public relations firms. However, the growth of social media has impacted the way organizations communicate. With the emergence of Web 2.0, the internet provides a set of tools that allow people to build social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projects online.
Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. A corporate message spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it is coming from a trusted, third-party source, as opposed to the brand or company itself.
Gate One Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Gate One Marketingis a results-driven international marketing services company dedicated to helping businesses acquire new customers and retain them. Gate One Marketing has almost 20 years of experience in Internet Marketing Projects with offices in the USA, and Sweden. Gate One Marketing acts as your Internet Marketing department; however we are an independent company devoted to your Internet Marketing success. First, we will discuss why business should use Social Media Marketing.
Why is Social Media a Good Choice?
Quite simply, because Social Media works, especially for small and medium sized businesses who are interested in using Internet Marketing. Regus, a research company, published a study in July 2010 that explored the role of social media marketing in customer acquisition. The study found that almost one-half of small businesses have successfully connected with new customers through social networks. Compare that with the fact that only
28 % of large companies reported that they had found new customers on social networks, and it’s clear that small businesses have a definite advantage when they use social media marketing. (Medium-sized businesses were somewhere in the middle at 36 %.) When you’re looking to find new customers or are looking to engage more with your existing ones, we present 10 reasons why you should consider social media marketing strategies using the Internet.
1. They extend you, your brand, and your relationship with your customers.
The two goals of marketing are to find new customers and to keep your existing customers updated. You use email marketing to reach your existing customers’ inboxes, and you can use the reach of social media sites to extend your presence into other interactive areas of the web where your customers and members gather with their friends, family, coworkers, and peers.
Think of it this way: When one of your customers or members shares a piece of your content (e.g., an issue of your newsletter, a blog post, or an event check-in), or talks about your company on a social media site, he’s offering his endorsement of what you do and sharing you with his network — without you having to lift a finger or spend any additional money. This introduces you to many more people than you’re currently connected to, and can bring new business, members, or donations your way. There’s data to support the value of word of mouth: According to Nielsen, 90% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know, and 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.
2. Social media marketing sites are popular.
Facebook alone has more than 500 million users. (To put that in perspective: That’s about 190 million people more than the population of the United States.) In addition, Twitter claims 145 million registered users, LinkedIn has 70 million users, 33 million people use Yelp, and Foursquare claims it has 3 million users (and growing). Point is, chances are good that many of your customers and members, or the people you want to reach, are using at least one social media site.
3. Social media isn’t just for college kids.
One major stereotype associated with social media is that it’s only for young folks. This is not true at all. In fact, according to Pingdom, a web monitoring provider, 25% of users of social networking sites are between 35 and 44, and 57% of the users are older than 35. That same study revealed that the average age of Facebook users is 44.
4. Social media users are active.
In June 2010, Facebook revealed that half of its users log in on any given day, and that users spend more than 500 billion minutes on the site each month. In addition, more than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, blog posts, photos, videos, etc.) are shared each month on Facebook. Similarly, Twitter claims that its users post 65 million tweets every day. Yes, some people join social media sites just to listen and observe, but most do it to engage, converse, and participate.
5. Social media provides instant feedback.
Active users means you’re going to get your customers’ and members’ opinions (positive and negative) about everything — your products, your services, your employees, your events, and more. This will give you important real-time information to make changes or adjustments, or to put a bigger spotlight on things that are working. And, you can use social media to detect trends and then take a deeper dive with an online survey.
6. Social media encourages two-way communication.
As hard as we try to make it more interactive, email on its own is a one-way communication channel. On the other hand, sites like Twitter and Facebook allow you to more easily have a “conversation” (albeit a public one) with your customers and members. You can see what they’re saying about you and you can respond, and vice versa. Using tools like Google Real Time Search (http://www.google.com/realtime) or Twitter Search (http://search.twitter.com), you can quickly see any mentions of your business, organization, product, or service, or you can look up key terms related to your business or organization and find out what people are saying about them. Even better: Tools like NutshellMail (http://www.nutshellmail.com) allow you to have all that’s being said about you sent right to your inbox, and you can respond right there.
Speaking of which, responding on social media is simple. For example, with Twitter, you don’t even have to be following someone or connected to him to post a response. If something relevant comes up in your search results or in a NutshellMail email, you can respond by mentioning the person’s handle (i.e., his username proceeded by the @ symbol) in a tweet. On
Facebook, if someone posts a comment on your Page, you can respond right there on the same item. (Of course, sometimes it’s better to respond privately. Use your judgment to decide what’s appropriate for your situation.)
7. The sites can share a lot about you.
Profiles on these sites can help boost awareness about your business or organization as they can contain pertinent information about your products and services. Think of them as dynamic yellow pages for the digital age. Much of your activity and profiles on social media sites can be made “public,” meaning they can be indexed by search engines — one more way to make sure your business or organization comes up as the answer when someone is searching for a solution to a problem.
8. Social media marketing sites are free.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Yelp, and other sites all offer free accounts for businesses and organizations. You can even blog for free with services like WordPress.com, Google’s Blogger.com, or Posterous.com. Some sites — like LinkedIn — do offer paid accounts with features that are targeted at more advanced users, but for the purposes of getting started, there’s no upfront cost for most of the social networking sites.
9. Social media sites allow you to be personal and professional.
On Facebook, you can have two identities: one for you and one for your business or organization. Facebook offers an option known as Pages, which are different from the standard Friend connections, and allow you to post messages just to people who Like your business or organization, keeping any personal information about you separate and contained to your profile.
10. Social media is everywhere.
You don’t have to be at your computer to post to any of the major social media networks — in fact, quite often you don’t even have to be on a social media network at the time to post to one of them. For instance, you can post to your Twitter feed via a simple text message or to Facebook by sending an email. If your site has a Like or Tweet button on it, all a reader has to do is click that and a link will show up in his newsfeed or Twitter stream. If you have a Smartphone like an iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows Mobile device, there are applications that let you update your social networking sites on the go. You can go beyond text too: Your mobile phone’s camera can be used to capture images and video, which can be uploaded to your blog and social media accounts right then and there, giving customers a richer (and real-time) media experience. Many of the popular blog platforms also allow posting from a mobile device.