Nowadays it is common to hear words such as wall, tag, like, unlike, and more recently tweet and retweet. The landscape of social media has its own set of jargon. It has its own dictionary for a generation that wakes up every day to the excitement of new friends and long-lost acquaintances found on Facebook, to the hilarious and sometimes controversial statements packed in a mere 140 characters on Twitter, and to the amusing videos that are uploaded on YouTube, guaranteed to cure your boredom with just a click. With the growth of social media in the 21st century, its no wonder marketers have found a way to use it to their advantage, adding social media marketing to their companies integrated marketing communication plans.
What is Social Media Marketing?
We define Social Media as the use of Internet-based platforms and mobile technologies as means of communication. This type of communication is dynamic and easily accessible, which makes interaction among users convenient and continuous. Social media marketing therefore is the use of the Internet and mobile technologies to push products and services to customers, by combining the features of the web with marketing strategies established to boost a company’s sales and presence, to create added value, and to foster stronger customer relationships.
Targeting Niche Markets
Although some people assert that the origins of social media marketing date several decades back, it was only during the dawn of the World Wide Web in the early 90s that the foothold of social media in modern communication became apparent. Social networks have evolved from Geocities, Angelfire and Tripod, to Friendster, Multiply, MySpace, YouTube and now, dominating the scene, are Facebook and Twitter. Each social network has its own use and a niche market. For instance, Multiply has been the outlet of choice for start-up entrepreneurs who have no capital to build physical stores. The ease with which sellers can showcase their products and promote their services, is the reason why Multiply has become a bustling online marketplace. All you need is a Multiply account, a camera to take pictures of your goods, some selling savvy and most importantly, plenty of friends who will recommend your products and direct other people to your site. MySpace, on the other hand, has been responsible for the discovery of new artists and bands. With your very own page containing your profile and some samples of your songs, it is quite easy to be seen and heard by agents and recording studios that are scouting for raw talent. MySpace Music has launched the careers of Colbie Caillat and Lil Mama to name a few.
The Age Of Facebook And Twitter
The most powerful networks helping social media marketing right now are Facebook and Twitter. These sites allow its users to repost and retweet comments about people, products and services, and the repetition of these messages enables marketers to reach a multitude people in a matter of hours. Social media marketing gains from an amplified word of mouth transmission. As more people talk about your product to their next-door neighbor or office colleague, the chances of other people sharing that information to another set of individuals becomes greater, thereby increasing traffic to your company’s website and prompting millions to actively seek you out and learn more about your products and services. It is as simple as having your very own Facebook page where people can like what you offer.
Mobile technologies are also key players in the arena of social media marketing. Cellular phones and tablets are capable of connecting wirelessly to the Internet, letting consumers have immediate access to their favorite social media sites, informing them of anything new that’s happening in cyberspace, in real-time. These gadgets are practically glued to their hands and this connection makes it even more convenient for marketers to update users about their offerings. Advertisements placed on social networks are always visible, creating top-of-mind awareness, allowing people to think about your product or service first as the one that will answer their needs.
Establishing a presence in social media is now a must for anyone who has something to promote. Small enterprises and big businesses alike are shifting from traditional advertising like print and TV, to the more convenient, readily available and at most times, less costly social media. It is amazing to look back at history and realize that social media marketing started with people pinning memos, flyers and brochures to bulletin boards, or placing ads on newspapers. Now we all just need an internet connection and any gadget capable of connecting online, and the world is virtually in our hands. It would be even more amazing to see how social media can still evolve in the coming years, and how it would make the world a smaller, more connected place.